Tennessee Department of Health warns of Sleep-related infant deaths

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Rachel Heitmann, MS, TDH Injury Prevention and Detection Director

The number of children dying from sleep related deaths in Tennessee has dropped from 130 in 2012 to 117 in 2013. The infant mortality rate in 2013 was down to 6.8 per 1,000 births, the lowest infant mortality rate ever in Tennessee (That is the most recently available data).

"We are very encouraged that fewer babies are dying in Tennessee from sleep related causes and believe our safe sleep campaign encouraging parents and caregivers to put babies to sleep using the ABCs of Safe Sleep is an important reason why." said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. "But until we get to zero, there is still more to do to save these wonderful lives in Tennessee."

Rachel Heitman said it is important for local hospitals to model safe sleep for newborns. Heitman is the Tennessee Department of Health Injury Prevention and Detection Director...

"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.

Another major step to help reduce the number of sleep related infant deaths is a collaboration with hospitals to implement safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This includes educating hospital staff and parents on safe sleep for infants through free education materials like the Sleep Baby Safe and Snug book.

"We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with hospitals that are modeling safe sleep practices so families have the correct information, right from the start," said TDH Injury Prevention and Detection Director Rachel Heitmann, MS. "What parents see while at the hospital, including how doctors, nurses, and other staff model safe sleep practices, sticks with them, and the hope is they will use these safe sleep practices at home."

Parents and other caregivers can remember these key steps to reduce the likelihood of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths:


• Always place babies on their backs to sleep.
• Sharing a room with your baby is okay, but sharing a bed is dangerous. Babies should sleep alone in their own crib or bassinette.
• Use a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet in the baby's crib. Keep stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, bumper pads and toys out of the crib.
• Do not smoke during pregnancy or after your baby is born.
• Be sure all those who are caring for the baby know about safe sleep practices.

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children, Murfreesboro, Murfreesboro news, newborns, Rachel Heitmann, safe sleep, Tennessee
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