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September is “Safe Sleep Month” in Michigan and the Livingston County Department of Public Health and LACASA’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council are working to raise awareness about infant Safe Sleep practices.
“There were six sleep-related infant deaths in Livingston County between 2010 and 2013. That’s six too many,” said Elaine Brown, Deputy Health Officer and Personal and Preventive Health Services Director for the Livingston County Department of Public Health.
“Sleep-related infant death is the second leading cause of death among infants less than one year old in Michigan,” Brown said. While there are a variety of factors that impact a caregiver’s daily choices regarding the child’s sleep environment, it is important that they know that sleep-related deaths are 100 percent preventable.”
During this month, and throughout the year, LACASA’s CAP Council provides free workshops in Livingston County to educate middle and high school students as well as new and expecting parents about infant safety topics. Programs include sessions on safe sleep practices and the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
“Education is a critical step in the process of making sure babies are safe in our community,” said Holly Naylor, LACASA’s CAP Council coordinator.
“Infant safety classes for students fit in perfectly with the classes they are already taking, such as life skills, child development, and health,” Naylor said. “Learning safe sleep practices now will mean that these practices are ingrained long before these students become parents.”
Naylor said the classes also help students who supervise young children. “We realize that many of these students have younger siblings or are babysitting already, making safe sleep education critical not just for the future, but for right now.”
The CAP Council is working to make sure the message is available to new and expectant parents. “Our Baby B Safe classes, which are held at the Department of Public Health, are designed to make sure that parents are educated about Safe Sleep and the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Naylor.
Brown reminds parents to “Always follow the A-B-Cs: put baby to sleep alone, on his/her back, in an empty crib,” said Brown. “It’s also important to stress using the A-B-Cs to any relatives, friends, or babysitters caring for your child when you are not there to check the sleeping environment.”
Safe Sleep steps recommended by the Department of Public Health can be found on the Michigan Department of Human Services website and include the following:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about one in five deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome occur while an infant is in the care of someone other than a parent. For that reason, parents are urged not only to engage in safe sleep practices at home, but to share that information with everyone who cares for their baby.
In addition, to information about what makes a safe sleep environment, it’s important for parents to understand how dangerous other sleeping situations can be. The Department of Human Services offers these warnings:
For more information about Safe Sleep for infants, parents and caregivers may contact the Livingston County Department of Public Health at 517-546-9850, or LACASA’s CAP Council at 517-548-1350.