NewsHealth / October 12, 2016

IU Health Launches Effort Promoting Infant Safe Sleep

A newborn at IU Health North hospital sports the new sleep sack that will be given to mothers.

A newborn at IU Health North hospital sports the new sleep sack that will be given to mothers.

A new program to reduce the number of infant deaths in Indiana was announced this week in Indianapolis.

Every woman who gives birth at one of seven Indiana University Health hospitals across the state will receive a sleep sack through a new initiative to decrease infant deaths.  The sacks are like wearable blankets, unlikely to get caught around a baby’s nose and mouth.

The initiative is funded through a partnership with Riley Children’s Health and the Indianapolis Colts. Riley’s Dr. Kim Schneider says unsafe sleep practice is one of the top three causes of infant death in Indiana, but it is a preventable one.

"A lot of the deaths that we were previously calling SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) or other things are actually due to unsafe sleep practices," Schneider says. 

Indiana has the 10th worst overall infant mortality rate in the nation: around 80 babies die each year. Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams says poor sleeping habits are a real problem in Indiana.

"In 2014, the rate of Indiana babies who died due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed was twice, two times, the national average," Adams says. 

The new initiative is paired with an educational component, and Adams says more awareness is necessary to change the culture of infant care.

"We know the right things to do. We know the ABC’s -- Alone on your Back in a Crib," says Adams. "We know prenatal care. We know don’t smoke, but we have to get that message out."

Two years ago, Indiana adopted the Labor of Love initiative to reduce the infant mortality rate.  The theme of next week’s Labor of Love conference is success through partnerships, like this one. 


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