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Tennessee Department of Health reminds everyone that September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Tennessee Department of Health - TDOHNashville, TN – The number of children dying from sleep related deaths in Tennessee has dropped from 130 in 2012 to 117 in 2013. The infant mortality rate in 2013 was down to 6.8 per 1,000 births, the lowest infant mortality rate ever in Tennessee.

“We are very encouraged that fewer babies are dying in Tennessee from sleep related causes and believe our safe sleep campaign encouraging parents and caregivers to put babies to sleep using the ABCs of Safe Sleep is an important reason why.” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “But until we get to zero, there is still more to do to save these wonderful lives in Tennessee.”

“A” is for Alone: always let the baby sleep alone, never in a bed with another person where the baby could be smothered. “B” is for on the baby’s Back:  an infant should be placed to sleep on his or her back, not on his or her side or stomach. “C” is for Crib: always put your child to sleep in a crib with only a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.

Another major step to help reduce the number of sleep related infant deaths is a collaboration with hospitals to implement safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This includes educating hospital staff and parents on safe sleep for infants through free education materials like the Sleep Baby Safe and Snug book.

“We are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with hospitals that are modeling safe sleep practices so families have the correct information, right from the start,” said TDH Injury Prevention and Detection Director Rachel Heitmann, MS. “What parents see while at the hospital, including how doctors, nurses, and other staff model safe sleep practices, sticks with them, and the hope is they will use these safe sleep practices at home.”

Parents and other caregivers can remember these key steps to reduce the likelihood of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths:

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep.
  • Sharing a room with your baby is okay, but sharing a bed is dangerous. Babies should sleep alone in their own crib or bassinette.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet in the baby’s crib. Keep stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, bumper pads and toys out of the crib.
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy or after your baby is born.
  • Be sure all those who are caring for the baby know about safe sleep practices.

To learn more about the TDH Safe Sleep campaign, visit http://safesleep.tn.gov

About the Tennessee Department of Health

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.

Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health


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