Oakland County Issues Safe Sleep Guidelines to Prevent Infant Death

Oakland County Health Division, under the leadership of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, urges residents to implement safe sleep practices to lower the risk of sleep-related infant deaths. These life-saving guidelines are issued in response to recent infant deaths due to position/compression asphyxiation in Oakland County.

“It’s imperative to exercise safe sleep practices because death by infant position/compression asphyxiation can happen to any family,” said George Miller, director of Oakland County Health and Human Services. “Parents may be tired and inappropriately place their child in bed with them; or grandparents may not know the new recommendations; but safety must prevail.”

Sleep-related infant deaths are typically due to accidental causes such as suffocation, when an object blocks his or her airway; entrapment, when he or she is lodged between two objects such as a mattress and wall; or strangulation, when something presses on or wraps around his or her neck, blocking the airway.

The following the guidelines help to prevent infant deaths from unsafe sleep environments:

  • An infant must sleep alone in a crib, portable crib, or bassinet. Those who breastfeed their child in bed should make sure to put him or her back in a crib, portable crib, or bassinet immediately after feeding.
  • Infants must always sleep on their back, even when they are at the stage where they roll over.
  • Pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, or other soft items should not be in an infant’s sleep area. Crib bumpers may cause serious injuries and even death. Keeping them out of an infant’s sleep area is the best way to avoid these dangers.
  • Keep an infant’s face uncovered during sleep for easy breathing. Use a sleeper instead of a blanket.

  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke around children.
  • Don’t overheat the infant. Generally, it is recommended to dress the infant in the same amount of clothing as adults are wearing. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
  • Use a firm mattress with a tightly fitted sheet. Never let an infant sleep on soft surfaces, such as a couch or sofa, pillows, quilts, sheepskins, or blankets.

Oakland County has several programs focused on reducing infant mortality which include public education campaigns; home visits from public health nurses to help pregnant women and new mothers keep infants safe and healthy; and the Fetal Infant Mortality Review board that examines the causes of each infant death and develops strategies to prevent future ones.

People with questions about safe sleep practices are urged to contact Oakland County Health Division’s Nurse on Call, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays at 800-848-5543.

About Tom and Ann Gendich

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