BOSTON, Nov. 15, 2012—As part of an ongoing effort to reduce child fatalities in Boston and Suffolk County, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley will speak about infant safe sleep practices with a group of expectant mothers, health workers, and community members in Roxbury next week.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death of infants between 1 month and 12 months of age. Half of all sudden, unexpected infant deaths are attributed to SIDS, with even higher rates seen among some minority groups. While the cause of SIDS is still unknown, health experts recommend using safe sleep practices in efforts to reduce SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
The safest way for a child to sleep is on his or her back in a crib or bassinet free of toys and with no loose or soft bedding, such as pillows, blankets, bumpers, and sleep positioners. Sharing a sleep environment with an adult is dangerous for an infant, and the risk is even greater for children under 3 months. Parents can further reduce the risk of SIDS by making sure all of a child’s caregivers – including babysitters and grandparents – know the safest way for a child to sleep.
On Nov. 21, Conley will speak before the Boston Healthy Start Initiative Consortium Meeting to help educate parents – especially first-time parents – about the best habits to keep infants safe. He will also distribute magnets, door hangers, booklets, and flyers with information on safe sleep practices that have been provided by the National Institutes of Health’s “Safe to Sleep” campaign.
The event, which will also include speakers from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Mayor’s Health Line, will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at New Academy Estates at 2908 Washington St., Roxbury. Area residents and members of the media are invited to attend.
“As district attorney, my job reaches far beyond prosecuting the perpetrators of crime,” Conley said. “It’s also my responsibility to help ensure safety of all our community residents, especially for those who are most vulnerable, such as infants. As a parent, I couldn’t imagine the pain of losing a child, and I don’t want any other parent to suffer that loss.”
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office chairs the county’s Child Fatality Review Team, which reviews the deaths of all minor county residents that are not attributed to natural causes. The group is one of 11 local review teams and one state team that are responsible for identifying ways to reduce preventable child deaths.
In Massachusetts alone, 40 to 60 sudden, unexpected infant deaths are reported each year. Local child fatality review teams have found many of the deaths occurred when a child was in an unsafe sleep position.
“Taking simple measures to ensure that an infant is sleeping in a safe position and in a safe place could prevent one of the most painful tragedies a family will ever suffer,” Conley said.
Tips for safe sleep practices:
• Infants should sleep on their backs every naptime and every night.
• Always place a baby to sleep in a crib or bassinet. Adult beds, couches, and chairs are not appropriate sleep surfaces.
• Make sure there are no toys or soft bedding in the sleep environment. Soft bedding includes blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, and sleep positioners.
• Avoid tobacco smoke, both while pregnant and after a child is born. Exposure to smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
• All potential caregivers should be instructed on safe sleep practices, including babysitters, childcare providers, relatives, and friends.
• Bed-sharing is dangerous for infants, especially those under 3 months and when the adult is sick, unusually tired, or has taken alcohol, prescription or illicit drugs, or a medication causing drowsiness.
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