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Information on Keeping Infants Asleep—and Alive


Council approves pilot program on safe sleeping environments


The Metropolitan King County Council wants to ensure that infants—and their parents—are getting a good night’s sleep and reducing the possibility of infant mortality due to unsafe sleep practices and sudden infant death syndrome. The Council gave its unanimous approval to a pilot program to provide parents with the information they need to protect their babies when it’s “bedtime.”

“This issue needs publicizing so parents can follow the simple recommendations to avoid a tragedy from happening: the ABCs of safe infant sleep,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, prime sponsor of the motion. “A: alone, no one else in bed; B: back, babies should sleep on their backs; C: crib, should be free of any toys or blankets except approved sleepwear.”

“Implementing this program through the Public Health—Seattle & King County’s Office of Vital Statistics, where birth certificates are issued, makes use of an important opportunity to provide education materials on safe sleep for infants,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, chair of the Council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee. “I am pleased the pilot project will be implemented within 90 days.”

The motion adopted by the Council calls for the Executive to develop a two-year pilot program to provide information on safe sleep practices to parents when the county issues birth certificates for infants that are less than a year old.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed is one of the top causes of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDs), the death of an infant less than one year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious before investigation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a safe sleep environment that can reduce sleep-related infant death risk. Their recommendations include placing the baby on their back to sleep, the use of a firm sleep surface and avoiding bed-sharing.

“A very high percentage of babies who have died in bed with their parents, suffocated or overheated,” Lambert said. “This is preventable.”

For over two decades, there has been a national “Back to Sleep” campaign, which has grown into the “Safe to Sleep” movement. The goal is to provide this information available on a wide basis to ensure that all parents have the information they have to protect their baby when they are asleep.

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