UH News

University Hospitals Dedicated to Promoting Infant Safe Sleep

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3, 2014, Cleveland, OH – For parents of a newborn, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) often tops the list of worries about the safety of their infant – with good reason. More than three Ohio infant deaths each week are sleep related. The experts at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital are doing everything they can to be sure new moms who deliver at UH learn the ABCs of safe sleep before discharge so they can keep their newborns safe at home.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. About half of the 4,200 sudden unexpected infant deaths per year nationwide are classified as SIDS, the other half are attributed to other sleep related death causes such as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, strangulation, infection, ingestions, metabolic diseases, cardiac arrhythmias, and trauma. A recent study reported in the journal JAMA Pediatrics noted that the number of infants who sleep in a bed with an adult or another child has doubled over the past 17 years. This statistic is especially troubling since research shows that bed sharing increases an infant’s risk of death from SIDS or other sleep-related causes such as accidental suffocation and entrapment. Sleep-related suffocation is the leading cause of infant-injury death and is preventable.

Although health care providers and researchers don’t know the exact cause of SIDS, they do know certain things you can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths. These preventative measures, known as the ABCs of safe sleep, are the focus of education efforts at UH and important guidelines for all parents of newborns to follow. Parents are reminded to follow these guidelines even when traveling this holiday season.

A – Babies should sleep alone, near their caregivers but on separate sleep surfaces – no adult beds, couches or chairs either alone or with an adult
B – Babies should sleep on their backs every time they sleep
C – Babies should sleep in bare cribs – no pillows, blankets, bumper pads or toys
S – Babies should sleep in smoke free homes

“We want to be sure new parents leave our hospital with as much education as possible about creating a safe sleeping environment for their baby,” says Robyn Strosaker, MD, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Pediatrician. ”In addition to the ABCs we encourage mothers to breastfeed, not to let babies get too hot during sleep, and to use a pacifier for naps and bedtime once breastfeeding has been established. These important precautions are reinforced with our patients through signage, in-room videos, handouts, and nurse education.”

The safe sleep message is communicated to women on the post-partum floor at UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital in a number of ways during the first few days of a baby’s life. A rounding program where safety experts visit each new mom gives staff the opportunity to go over the ABCs of Safe Sleep while distributing literature that reiterates the message. Women are also given a gift from the hospital of a board book, Sleep Baby Safe and Snug. This children’s book was created by Charlie’s Kids Foundation, an organization established in 2011 by Dr. Sam Hanke and his wife, Maura, after losing a child to SIDS. The book reinforces the safe sleep messages through colorful illustrations and a heartwarming bedtime story. UH also uses Halo Sleep Sacks for babies during their hospital stay. This wearable blanket replaces loose blankets in the crib that can cover baby’s face and interfere with breathing and has an adjustable swaddle wrap that keeps baby feeling safe and secure. In order to encourage the use of Sleep Sacks at home, the hospital’s Safety Store sells them to patients for less than half the retail cost.

The issue of not having the means to purchase a safe sleeping environment for a child will soon be addressed by UH as part of a Cribs for Kids® National Infant Safe Sleep Initiative. In 2014, UH will begin a pilot program with the women who take part in the hospital’s Centering Pregnancy Program and are in need of a crib. Those who qualify will receive a Graco® Pack ‘n Play and a crib sheet. University Hospitals is one of 40 community organizations across the U.S. to receive funds for this program from the Joseph A. Hardy, Sr. Mini-Grant Program sponsored by 84 Lumber Company.

The University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center is dedicated to preventing unintentional injury—the leading killer of American children—by working directly with children and families through education and outreach to decrease injury risk, improve well-being, and combat health disparities, while also sharing creative ideas, resources, and information with all members of the Greater Cleveland community interested in protecting children.

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