The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara has launched a countywide campaign to promote safe sleep practices for infants and lower the incidence of deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The Safe Sleep Campaign will target new parents, caregivers - including childcare providers and grandparents - and first responders in a concerted effort to create awareness of the role safe sleep practices play in reducing infant deaths.
According to the American SIDS Institute, a national nonprofit health care organization dedicated to the prevention of sudden infant death, SIDS accounts for 2,500 deaths per year in the United States and thousands more throughout the world.
"SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age," said Laura Kelemen, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara. "During the past two years, five deaths attributed to SIDS occurred in Niagara County. Needless to say, that is five too many."
Niagara County Child Fatality Review Team Coordinator Kim Proch, a Child Advocacy Center staff member, said such deaths can be avoided if safe sleep principles are followed.
"We hope this campaign will teach and inspire others to practice safe sleep with their infants in order prevent these tragic deaths in the future," she said.
Proch said a safe sleep environment is one where an infant sleeps alone, in a crib free from any stuffed animals, blankets, toys, or bumpers. The baby's crib may be in the same room with the caregiver, as long as they do not share a bed with the caregiver.
"Babies who sleep with a parent, sibling or other caregiver are three times more likely to die than babies who sleep alone, in a crib," Proch said.
Implementing safe sleep practices for infants in a safe sleep environment can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS. Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested placing babies on their backs to sleep alone in a crib, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths have dropped 50 percent according to the National Institutes of Health.
The Child Advocacy Center's Safe Sleep Campaign will promote awareness of safe sleep practices through the distribution of free educational materials such as posters and brochures and by presenting free programs on the topic to civic, service and first response organizations across Niagara County.
To request a free presentation or safe sleep informational materials, call the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara at 285-0045 or visit www.CACofNiagara.org.
The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara is a service of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.