Keeping Babies Safe Voices Strong Support for Safe Infant Sleep Campaign in Alameda County

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Comprehensive, Countywide Program Launched to Protect Babies.

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Keeping Babies Safe (KBS), a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring safe sleep practices and products for babies, today voiced its strong support for an Alameda County, Calif. program designed to educate parents about safe sleeping environments for their infants.

This proactive program is a unique partnership between the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, the Alameda County Children and Family Services, the Alameda County Department of Public Health, Highland Hospital and the Childhood Injury Prevention Network-Bay Area.

KBS, headquartered in Warren, NJ, is alarmed by the fact that 33 infants have died over the past five years in Alameda County because of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. An unsafe sleep environment was identified in 72 percent of those deaths, according to the partnership.

“The issues facing Alameda County, sadly, are not unique,” said Joyce Davis, president of KBS. “We see the same issues around the country, with parents allowing bed-sharing, front or side sleeping, and loose bedding or soft objects in the infant's sleep area that can obstruct the nose or mouth. It is why education is such a critical objective in ensuring safe sleep.”

The partnership in Alameda County brings together top area health care providers to educate parents about the importance of safe sleep environments. The campaign is being featured on county buses and shelters as well as on BART.

Davis said she was pleased to learn the comprehensive campaign includes recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recently updated safe sleep guidelines. They now include: putting an infant on its back to sleep for every sleep up to one year of age; placing infants on a firm sleep surface (i.e., mattress in a safety-approved crib) covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft objects; room-sharing without bed-sharing; avoiding overheating and head-covering in infants; and offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.

In addition, the AAP also has recommendations for breastfeeding mothers – the organization recognizes a mother may fall asleep in the adult bed when breastfeeding. This increases the importance of not having loose objects, blankets or pillows in the nursing area, and suggests that a mother should return the infant to the crib as soon as she awakes.

The mother should be vigilant not to fall asleep due to the increased risk and infants should not be fed in an arm chair or sofa. The AAP also recommends infants remain in the parent’s room in a separate bed designed for the baby until 1 year of age or minimally until six months of age.

“No one should underestimate the importance of safe sleep practices, especially with newborns and infants under 1 year of age,” says Bonnie Lovette, RN MS PNP, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s injury prevention coordinator. “We are hopeful that our safe sleep education efforts will be augmented through our partnership with local and national organizations.”

KBS has worked closely with Lovette, a founding member of the Childhood Injury Prevention Network- Bay Area (CIPN-BA), a group of injury prevention experts from Alameda and Contra Costa County including several pediatricians, which has been working with Bay Area hospitals to develop safe sleep policies similar to those of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

“We are pleased to work with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, which is one of the leading hospitals in the nation in ensuring safe sleep practices,” says Jack Walsh, co-founder of KBS. “Education of parents remains paramount. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland works closely with our organization to provide educational materials to new parents, and in many cases, this proactive education is the difference between life and death.”

Learn more about KBS at KeepingBabiesSafe.org

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Jasmine Walden
Jaffe Communications
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