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Arkansas Program Teaches Parents Safe Sleep for Infants

New guidelines say parents should put infants to sleep on their backs in an uncluttered crib. (artfoliophoto/iStockphoto)
New guidelines say parents should put infants to sleep on their backs in an uncluttered crib. (artfoliophoto/iStockphoto)
November 14, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Public health officials in Arkansas are making sure parents and caretakers know how to safely put infants to sleep so they wake up healthy and alive.

The Arkansas Children's Hospital and the state Department of Health have launched a statewide campaign to educate families about the ABCs of Safe Sleep for Babies.

Beverly Miller, associate director of the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital, says the state has one of the highest rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in the country.

"Arkansas's SIDS rate is 133 percent higher than the national rate,” she states. “It's really the driving force. Truthfully, SIDS is really not fully understood. There's different things that make an infant vulnerable."

Miller says A, B and C stand for infants sleeping alone, on their backs and in a crib. She says laying infants on their stomach or side, having them sleep with their parents or sleeping with stuffed animals or toys puts them at risk of suffocation.

Miller says infants should sleep in a crib in the room with their parents for at least six months after the infants are born.

She says in Arkansas, 60 infants die each year from SIDS and other sleep-related conditions. The death rate is twice as high among African-Americans infants.

"There are some populations that the parents are more vulnerable to not practice good preventive health overall, and including how they put their baby to sleep," she relates.

Miller says the program reaches young mothers-to-be through what are called Safety Baby Showers, where safe sleep techniques are taught. She adds statistics show there are several factors that can indicate a higher risk.

"Low socio-economic income, minorities, expectant mothers who haven't had good prenatal health – those are all vulnerable populations, regardless of where they live," she explains.

Miller says the initial goal of the ABCs of Safe Sleep for Babies is to reduce the SIDS rate in Arkansas to below the national average and eventually make it a rare occurrence.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR