Michigan Recognizes September As Infant Safe Sleep Month

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

September 8, 2011

Parents and All Caregivers Urged to Learn and Follow Safe Sleep Guidelines 

LANSING - In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of establishing a safe sleep environment for infants, Governor Rick Snyder has declared September as Infant Safe Sleep Month in Michigan.

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, or SUID, is Michigan's leading cause of preventable infant death. Michigan currently ranks 37th among states for overall infant mortality and the state's infant mortality rate, 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, remains one of the highest in the nation. In 2009, 63 Michigan babies, or more than one child every week, died of accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed.

"The same loving precautions caregivers practice while a baby is awake should be continued around the clock," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). "There are many preventative steps a parent can take to ensure that their child sleeps safe and sound."

In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics, MDCH recommends these measures to ensure infant safe sleeping:

  • Infants should be placed to sleep on their backs.
  • Use a firm sleep surface and firm mattress covered only with a fitted sheet.
  • Remove soft objects and loose bedding from the crib (no pillows, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys, bumper pads, or other soft objects).
  • Do not share a bed with your baby.
  • Avoid allowing your baby to become overheated.
  • Encourage "Tummy Time;" it's important to practice supervised tummy time while your baby is awake to build strong neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Make sure everyone caring for your baby knows these guidelines.

Michigan is fortunate to have many public and private partners at both the state and local levels working together to protect children. The Safe Sleep Advisory Team, which includes representatives from MDCH, Department of Education, Department of Human Services, Michigan Public Health Institute and Tomorrow's Child, has been working to reduce infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environments.

"We are so lucky in the state of Michigan to have partners working together to help ensure our babies are safe," said Shannon Stotenbur-Wing, Director of the Center for Child and Family Health of Michigan Public Health Institute, and one of the Safe Sleep Advisory Team representatives. "It is imperative to the safety of our babies to get this message out."

Suzanne Stiles Burke, the Michigan Department of Human Services Bureau of Child Welfare Director, views Infant Safe Sleep Month as an opportunity to remind and educate the community about safe sleep practices for infants.

"We continue to see far too many infant deaths related to unsafe sleep conditions, including putting children to sleep in car seats, on couches, or in co-sleeping environments with adults," Stiles Burke said.

Sandra J. Frank, Chief Executive Officer of Tomorrow's Child/Michigan SIDS, an organization dedicated to the welfare of Michigan families and infants said, "Infant safe sleep precautions save babies' lives. Please make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep for every nap and bedtime."

There are many resources available to the general public, parents, families, professionals, and caregivers of infants. Among those are:

www.michigan.gov/safesleep The website is designed for parents, professionals, and other caregivers.

Tomorrow's Child/Michigan SIDS: call (800) 331-7437 or email info@tcmisids.org to order brochures, posters, or DVDs about safe sleep for your clinic or office.

Online training is available FREE: www.learning.mihealth.org. The goal of this course is to provide individuals caring for pregnant women, infants, and caregivers with strategies to promote a consistent safe sleep environment.

Data and reports are available through the Michigan Public Health Institute: (517) 324-7330 or www.keepingkidsalive.org.

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