Lorain County health organizations are trying to prevent sleep-related infant deaths, which account for more infant deaths in Ohio than any single cause except premature births.
The statistics, provided by the SID Network of Ohio, paint a grim picture.
In Ohio, 277 babies died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome from 2005 to 2009, with SIDS claiming about 2,300 infants a year in the U.S., according to the Ohio Child Fatality Review 11th annual report.
The majority of SIDS deaths are sleep-related, and most sleep-related deaths occur before 6 months of age.
Natalie Karn, a registered nurse at the Lorain County General Health District, said that’s why educating new mothers is so important. Karn conducts home visits with new mothers within six weeks of the child’s birth with an emphasis on educating the mother on safe sleeping arrangements.
Karn is also one of several employees at the Lorain County General Health District who pass out safe sleep awareness onesies, which were provided by the SID Network of Ohio. The onesies were also distributed to the Elyria City Health District, Lorain City Health Department, Mercy Regional Medical Center and EMH Elyria Medical Center, according to Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans.
Evans has been a local proponent for the program, hoping that the onesies will raise awareness. He said 90 percent of SIDS deaths can be attributed to unsafe sleep patterns.
The onesies read, “I sleep safe on my back in my crib” and serve as a safety reminder to new moms.
Dave Covell, health commissioner at the Lorain County Health District, said a problem with new mothers is that some believe babies should have a lot of padding in their cribs, but that isn’t the case. Infants can roll around and suffocate in blanketing or stuffed animals, he said.
Covell said until the 1990s, it was recommended that babies sleep on their stomachs, but the recommendation was later changed.
“The clear message is that the baby needs to sleep on its back, so it should be done,” he said.