Athens City-County Health Department 740-592-4431

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Information for Prospective Parents

Dear Prospective Parent,

We realize this is an exciting time for you as you prepare for the arrival of your newborn. As a part of that preparation, we want to remind you to carefully consider your infant's sleep environment.

Sleep related deaths of infants occur during the first year of life and are frequently due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The Back to Sleep campaign which began in 1992 has dramatically reduced the incidence of SIDS. Tragically, infants still die from sleep related causes. These deaths are often preventable through consistently providing a safe sleeping environment.

The Athens Childhood Fatality Review Board annually reviews and reports to the state all county deaths in children under eighteen years of age. Data reported from the state of Ohio has revealed some preventable associations.

  • 66% of sleep related deaths occurred in infants who were sharing a sleep surface with another person at the time of death.
  • 42% of infants who died were exposed to smoke either during pregnancy or after birth

Other important factors in preventing sleep related deaths are:

  • Sitting devices such as car safety seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care – there is evidence this lowers the risk for SIDS.
  • Breast feeding is associated with a reduced risk of sleep related deaths.
  • Routine immunization may provide a protective effect against SIDS.
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use during and after pregnancy

We have included a brochure provided by the National Institutes of Health which lists the top ten safe sleep strategies. Notice that the number one recommendation is to always place your baby on his or her back for sleep.

Congratulations! If we can answer any questions about creating a safe sleep environment, please call us at 740-592-4431.

Sincerely,
James R. Gaskell MD
Health Commissioner

Safe Sleep brochure [pdf]
NIH Safe Sleep for Your Baby [link]

We are your partner in good health