October is SIDS Awareness Month. Research has shown that most deaths that used to be classified as SIDS are actually due to unsafe sleep conditions. Placing babies to sleep alone, on their back and in a crib can reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths. LeConte Medical Center provides education to all new parents about safe sleep.
Twenty percent of all infant deaths in Tennessee are due to unsafe sleep practices. In an effort to save lives, LeConte Medical Center has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) to reduce infant mortality by promoting the ABCs of safe sleep for infants: Infants should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib.
Studies have shown that when parents go home, they put their babies to sleep the same way they see their baby positioned in the hospital. But at home, babies do not have the same monitoring and supervision as in the hospital.
This is why LeConte Medical Center has a safe-sleep policy for all infants in the hospital. Team members who care for infants receive annual training that includes education on best practices. The nursing staff at LeConte Medical Center provides educational materials to all parents of newborns in their Birthing Unit teaching about safe sleep habits. The staff is also presents each newborn in the Birthing Unit with a Halo® SleepSackSwaddle Wrap (the original wearable blanket with adjustable swaddle wrap), made possible through the generosity of the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation.
“We are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children, which is why our safe-sleep policy allows us to not only educate new parents on safe sleep guidelines but to be the example of what a safe-sleep environment looks like,” said Pam King, RN, manager of the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit at LeConte Medical Center.
Although Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has decreased in Tennessee, preventable sleep-related deaths are on the rise. A primary cause of sleep-related infant death is suffocation, which can happen with an adult rolls over on an infant or when an infant is smothered by pillows or blankets. Out of 1,000 babies born in Tennessee in 2012, seven did not reach their first birthday due to sleep-related deaths.
Safe sleep practices can prevent sleep-related deaths. LeConte Medical Center promotes the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that infants should:
- Always be placed on their backs to sleep;
- Sleep alone in a crib or bassinet, although the crib or bassinet can be in the same room as an adult caregiver;
- Not have bumper pads, blankets, stuffed animals, toys or pets in their cribs;
- Sleep on a firm crib mattress with the mattress covered only by a fitted sheet.
LeConte Medical Center is committed to the health and safety of all patients and is proud to partner with the Tennessee Department of Health in this effort to reduce infant deaths. The local hospital was recently recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a Bronze Certified Safe Sleep Hospital.
For more information on sleep-related deaths, visit the TDH website at http://safesleep.tn.gov.