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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Safe Sleep Project Targets SIDS

Press Release Date:  Friday, December 16, 2005  
Contact Information:  Vikki Franklin or Beth Crace (502)564-6786  


Kentucky Safe Sleep Project Targets SIDS, All Kentucky Newborns to Receive Onesies           

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 16, 2005) – As part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ (CHFS) new “Kentucky Safe Sleep Project,” designed to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in Kentucky, every baby born at a Kentucky hospital will receive a onesie reminding parents to put babies to sleep on their backs.


The onesies, printed in English and Spanish, will read “Safe Sleep, This Side Up” on the front and “Please Roll Me Over” on the back to remind parents of the recommended safe sleep position. The project is a collaborative effort between the Departments for Community Based Services (DCBS) and Public Health (DPH).


The new campaign will assist health care providers as they educate parents about the dangers of SIDS, viewed as a preventable disorder often brought on by positional asphyxiation.


“There are few events more tragic than the death of an otherwise healthy infant; especially when the death could have been prevented,” said CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “At the Cabinet, we believe that the preventable loss of just one child is one too many. We will continue to look for ways to better educate parents and reduce the rate of SIDS in the Commonwealth.”


Parents also receive “safe sleep” literature, produced by CHFS, which is distributed at doctors offices and hospitals. 


In Kentucky, more than 50 families each year lose their baby due to SIDS. Unfortunately, rates of the syndrome continue to rise in Kentucky and at present are nearly twice the national average.


SIDS, the sudden death of an infant under the age of one year that remains unexplained after investigation, remains the most prevalent cause of postnatal infant mortality in the United States. Kentucky remains above the national rate. Kentucky’s infant death rate due to SIDS of 0.9 per 1,000 live births is almost double the national rate of 0.5 per 1,000.


 In a significant number of cases, SIDS can be attributed to positional asphyxiation caused by the baby’s sleep position. The Safe Sleep Project encourages parents to place infants on their backs when they are sleeping.


“According to research on the syndrome, babies who sleep on their stomachs are at five times greater risk for SIDS. Simply put, being placed on their backs saves babies’ lives,” said Eugene Foster, Ed.D., CHFS undersecretary for children and family services. “It is our hope by helping parents learn about safe sleep practices, the rate of SIDS in our state will be greatly reduced.”


Printing for the onesies is being supplied by Kentucky Correctional Industries. Distribution of the one-piece sleeping garments will begin Jan. 1, 2006. DPH supplied funding for the project, which will allow for the distribution of 50,000 onesies each year at a rate of 4,300 to 4,500 per month at hospitals offering obstetric services.


 “Safe Sleep” projects have been used around the country, including Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, where T-shirts will be given to all newborns beginning in January.

The Jefferson County Child Fatality Review Team iniated Kosair’s sleep program.
Nationally, the American Academy of Pediatrics introduced “Back to Sleep” in 1993. Since then, national SIDS rates have fallen from 1.0 per 1,000 live births to 0.5 per 1,000.


“We’re confident we’ll have the same kind of success with the ‘Kentucky Safe Sleep Project’ as other areas that have used ‘Back to Sleep’ programs,” Foster said. “The onesies will provide a practical and ever-present reminder to parents to keep their baby positioned on its back, educating parents on safe sleep practices and providing a safe environment for infants.”


For more information on SIDS, call the SIDS Hotline at (800) 928-SIDS.


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Last Updated 12/16/2005