HELPING OTHERS: Local Couple Campaigns for "Safe Sleep" After Couple Loses Son to "SIDS"

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Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, announces the partnership with the Charlie’s Kids Foundation and Tennessee hospitals to provide teaching materials to help new parents and hospital staff members learn the “ABCs of safe sleep.”

The Tennessee Department of Health is partnering with the Charlie’s Kids Foundation and Tennessee hospitals to provide teaching materials to help new parents and hospital staff members learn the “ABCs of safe sleep.” The TN Department of Health will provide hospitals that join the project with copies of the Sleep Baby Safe and Snug board book for each baby born in their facility in 2014. The book was authored by pediatrician John Hutton, MD for Charlie’s Kids to teach caregivers to safely put a baby to sleep.

Charlie’s Kids Foundation was established in 2011 after Sam and Maura Hanke lost their first son, Charlie, to sudden infant death syndrome. Sam Hanke, a pediatric cardiologist, and Maura Hanke, a kindergarten teacher, have made it their mission to teach others that a baby is safest alone on his or her back in a crib for sleeping. Charlie’s Kids was founded with the purpose of increasing safe sleep awareness and education with the ultimate goal of reducing the SIDS mortality rate.

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“With a concerted effort and the awareness and actions of all of us who care for infants, we don’t have to lose another baby to a preventable sleep-related death,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “The data from our Child Fatality Review teams show 20 percent of infant deaths in Tennessee, the third leading cause with 121 such deaths in 2012, can be stopped with consistent, persistent safe sleep practices that this important book, supplied in our hospitals, will reinforce.”

Hospitals that partner with TDH in this project can also receive flip charts and other educational materials staff members can use to teach new parents about safe sleep for infants. TDH launched a statewide campaign in June 2012 to increase awareness of safe sleep practices in order to reduce infant mortality in Tennessee. The primary message for parents and others who care for infants is to “Remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep.” There are three critical measures to follow when it’s time for an infant to sleep. “A” is for Alone:  always let the baby sleep alone, never in a bed with another person where the baby could be smothered. “B” is for on the baby’s Back; an infant should be placed to sleep on his or her back, not on his or her side or stomach. “C” is for Crib:  always put your child to sleep in a crib with only a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.

"Charlie's Kids is thrilled to be partnering with the Tennessee Department of Health and hospitals across the state in this exciting new initiative,” said Sam Hanke, MD, president of the Charlie’s Kids Foundation board of directors. “Thank you to First Lady Crissy Haslam and the state of Tennessee for drawing attention to the importance of safe sleep and SIDS. It is our hope that Sleep Baby Safe and Snug will resonate with parents and result in all babies sleeping in a safe environment. We applaud the Tennessee Department of Health, the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation and kidcentral tn for leading this initiative. With innovative and important steps like this, we honor Charlie's memory as we continue our fight to eliminate SIDS and sleep-related deaths."


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Along with TDH and Charlie’s Kids, partners in this project include the Tennessee Hospital Association, the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, the Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A list of participating hospitals is available online at

Learn more about the ABCs of safe sleep at

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit

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Charlie's kids, Charlie’s Kids Foundation, Murfreesboro, Murfreesboro news, SIDS, sudden infant death, Tennessee news, TN
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