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Children's of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Public Health Partner in Support of Safe Sleep for Infants

BIRMINGHAM (Oct. 15, 2013) – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the No. 1 cause of death for infants one to 12 months old, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children's of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Public Health have partnered together to raise awareness about the dangers of co-sleeping with infants. The "Safe Sleep" campaign is a state-wide initiative created in light of national SIDS awareness month (October).

National studies are attributing the leading cause of SIDS to unsafe sleep practices. According to a study done by JAMA Pediatrics, the risk of suffocation or SIDS is three times more likely if an infant is co-sleeping in an adult bed. The study also showed that the number of parents co-sleeping with their infants is on the rise. In 1993, only seven percent of caregivers were co-sleeping with infants. In 2010, the statistic rose to 14 percent. According to Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics task force on SIDS, infants who co-sleep are five times more likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep alone.

The "Safe Sleep" initiative aims to educate parents about safe sleep practices for infants at delivery hospitals before they go home and work with pediatricians to educate new parents about safe sleep practices at the infants two week well visit. This effort seeks to educate primary care givers but also family members, baby sitters and others who may provide care for infants.

"Many healthy infants are needlessly dying each from being placed in unsafe sleep conditions," said Gayle Whatley, RN, WHNP-BC and Central Alabama District Perinatal Director for the Alabama Department of Public Health, who makes the following recommendations for safe sleeping for infants:

Share a room, not a bed. The Alabama Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing for parents and infants without bed-sharing. Co-sleeping is the leading cause of sleep related deaths in infants. Infants should not sleep on adult beds, couches or chairs. Avoid falling asleep with an infant in your arms to reduce the risk of them sliding out or suffocating. Room-sharing, according to the AAP, reduces the risk of SIDS.

Avoid overheating. Dress infants in light clothing. One piece sleepers are the recommended sleep outfit. Nothing should cover an infant's head. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature for adults.

Avoid suffocation hazards in infants crib. This can include pillows, blankets, loose bedding, toys and crib bumpers. Instead, chose a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.

Remember the BACK to sleep rule. Always lay infants down to sleep on their back for both naps and at night.

Do not smoke or allow smoke around infants. Do not smoke before or after giving birth. Do not let those who choose to smoke do so around an infant.

Choose a safety approved crib.

Stay away from products that claim to reduce SIDS. Products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS have not been proven to do so.

Breastfeeding and dry pacifiers can help. Breastfeeding has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS. Dry, clean pacifiers, without strings, have also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you are breastfeeding an infant, wait one month, or until the infant is used to breastfeeding before giving infants a pacifier.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is Alabama's primary health agency. The ADPH works to provide and maintain health services for the Alabama public through disease prevention and the promise of public services despite financial circumstances. The ADPH aims to protect and progress health for the people of Alabama with high quality care and services.

Children's of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children since 1911, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Last year, families made more than 670,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children's from every county in Alabama and from 41 other states and four foreign countries. With more than 2 million square feet, Children's is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. and has been ranked among the top children's hospital programs in the country for the past four years by US News & World Report. More information is available at