I serve as the Representative for the Georgia Child Fatality Review Board. The Board reviews child deaths and develops policy initiatives to prevent those deaths. Three infants die every week in Georgia as a result of unsafe sleep practices, but we can change that statistic.
Sleep-related causes of infant death are those linked to how or where a baby sleeps. They are due to accidental causes like:
-Entrapment — which is when a baby gets trapped between two objects, such as a mattress and wall, and can’t breathe.
-Strangulation — which is when something presses on or wraps around the baby’s neck, blocking the airway.
Babies sleep safest on their backs, as they’re much less likely to die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) than are babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. Babies who are used to sleeping on their backs but are then placed on their stomachs to sleep are at much higher risk of SIDS. Infants who sleep on a soft surface, such as an adult bed or under a soft covering (like a fluffy blanket or quilt) are also more likely to die of SIDS or suffocation.
Additional suggestions from the March of Dimes to promote safe sleeping practices include:
-Ensure that your baby sleeps on a flat, firm surface, like a crib mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet.
-Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib.
-The mattress should fit snugly in the crib so there are no spaces between the mattress and the crib frame.
-The mattress shape should stay firm, even when covered with a tightly fitted sheet or mattress cover.
It’s also important to put a baby to bed in his own crib or bassinet. Don’t let your baby sleep in his carrier, sling, car seat or stroller. Babies who sleep in these items can suffocate. If your baby falls asleep in one of these items, take her out, and put her in her crib as soon as you can.
Also, don’t co-sleep; this is when babies and parents sleep together in the same bed. Co sleeping is the most common cause of death in babies younger than 3 months old. Keep your baby’s crib close to your bed so they are nearby during the night. The American Academy of Pediatrics says to share your bedroom with your baby, but not your bed. Use a bassinet, crib or play yard that meets current safety standards. Don’t use cribs with drop-side rails, and don’t try to fix a crib that has broken or missing parts.
These are simple things that can be done to prevent tragedies from occurring. I’m offering a resolution to promote safe sleep practices, but nothing we do in the General Assembly can take the place of individual responsibility. Please join me in helping spread the word about safe sleep