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SIDS and Sleep-Related Infant Deaths in Kentucky

In Kentucky, the infant mortality rate is higher than the national average. Every five days a baby dies with a sleep-related risk factor in Kentucky. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the sudden death of an infant less than one-year old that cannot be explained after a full investigation. SIDS cannot always be avoided, but there are ways to lower the chances of SIDS by following Safe Sleep practices.

In 2013, 9 out of 10 sudden unexpected infant deaths included at least one sleep-related risk factor. In Kentucky, an infant is 70 times more likely to die from unsafe sleep than from a motor vehicle accident. The most common sleep-related risk factors were babies placed on unsafe sleep surfaces like couches, recliners, or an adult bed, and over half of the sleep-related deaths in 2013 in Kentucky had bed-sharing documented.

In order to reduce the risk of any infant dying due to unsafe sleep, the ABCs of Safe Sleep should be practiced every time a baby sleeps. A, B, C, and D stand for the following: 

A is for Alone. Stay Close, Sleep Apart.
B is for Back. On Your Back, for Nights and Naps.
C is for Crib. In a Clean, Clear, Crib.
D is for Danger. Be Aware, Not Impaired. Drinking, drug use, exhaustion, and guests may impair your ability to care for your baby, making bed sharing and other unsafe sleep even more dangerous for your baby.

In October 2015, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) launched the Safe Sleep Campaign. It is a statewide effort to raise awareness of the importance of Safe Sleep for babies and lower the number of SIDS-related deaths in Kentucky.

The purpose of the Safe Sleep Kentucky campaign is to prevent infant deaths by educating the public in ABCD, the four letters associated with the best practices to make sure infants sleep safely. The campaign aims to help inform new and experienced parents, grandparents, and caregivers on the importance of Safe Sleep for babies.

The campaign also hopes to promote Safe Sleep through medical experts and professionals within the healthcare community so they and parents alike become familiar with, practice, and actively promote these simple steps to save babies lives. 

Safe Sleep Kentucky FAQ

Where is the safest place for my baby to sleep?
Whether at night or during nap time, a baby should always sleep on their back in a crib, bassinet, or pack & play. Back-sleeping on a firm mattress in a crib, bassinet or pack and play decreases the risk for SIDS. It does NOT increase the risk for choking or affect baby’s sleep quality.

Why should I place my baby on his or her back to sleep?
Research shows that the back sleep position is the safest for babies. The back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS. Research also shows that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to get fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections. The back sleep position makes it easier for babies to look around the room and to move their arms and legs.
Remember: Babies sleep safest on their backs, and every sleep time counts!

Why shouldn’t I use crib bumpers in my baby’s sleep area?
Bumper pads and similar products that attach to crib slats or sides are frequently used with the thought of protecting infants from injury. However, evidence does not support using crib bumpers to prevent injury. In fact, crib bumpers can cause serious injuries or death. Keeping them out of your baby’s sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.
Before crib safety was regulated, the spacing between the slats of the crib sides could be any width, which could be dangerous to infants if they were too wide. Today’s cribs must meet safety standards that prevent the slats from being too wide, so bumper pads are no longer needed.

Is sleeping with my baby safe?
No. Room sharing is sleeping in the same area, so that you are able to see, hear, and/or touch your baby. Sleeping in the same room as your baby is highly encouraged, but sleeping on the same surface as your baby is not. What is not OK is when you and your infant are sleeping on the same surface, whether it is an adult bed or a couch.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing, not bed-sharing, because an adult bed presents many hazards that can cause an infant to choke, suffocate or become trapped.

How do I tell others about how to put a baby to sleep?
Tell everyone about the ABC’s (Baby sleeps ALONE, on their BACK and in a CRIB) and insist that your baby is always placed in their Safe Sleep Space for all sleep.
In a respectful manner, teach caregivers the ABCs of Safe Sleep and why following these steps will help keep infants safe. Share the Safe Sleep Kentucky website and other resources with them so they can find information on their own, and encourage them to talk with their pediatrician if they have questions.
Spread the word: when it comes to a baby’s safety, people will listen.


Alone - Stay Close, Sleep Apart

Share the room, not the bed. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your room, but NOT your bed.

Back - On Their Back for Nights and Naps

A baby should always sleep on their back at night and during nap time. Back sleeping on a firm mattress in a crib or play yard decreases the risk for SIDS.

Crib - Clean, Clear Crib

A baby’s crib should contain a fitted sheet only; no blankets, toys, pillows, bumpers, or other items that could cover a baby’s face and suffocate them. Cribs, bassinets and play yards with firm mattresses are the only safe places for babies to sleep.

Danger - Be Aware, Not Impaired

Drinking and drug use impair your ability to care for a baby, making bed-sharing and other unsafe sleep even more dangerous for the baby.