For Immediate Release
October 6, 2011

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE Takes Steps to Address Infant Mortality During SIDS Awareness Month

Topeka - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and collaborating state and local organizations are encouraging communities to recognize October as SIDS Awareness Month. Together we hope to ensure that every woman has a healthy pregnancy by getting early prenatal care and learning about safe sleep for her baby. It is important as well to have good support services and make choices that promote a healthy lifestyle for a lifetime.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of an otherwise healthy baby. According to the most recent data from 2009, 290 Kansas infants died before their first birthdays, representing an infant mortality rate (IMR) of 7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Of the 290 deaths, 39 were attributed to SIDS and Other Sleep Related Infant Deaths, or 13.4 percent of the infant deaths. This makes SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, the third highest cause of death among Kansas infants.

“This is why it is especially important for everyone to follow the safe sleep recommendations,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “The ABCs of safe sleep – Alone, on their Back and in their Crib.”

With representation on the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality, KDHE Bureaus of Family Health, Epidemiology/Public Health Informatics, and the Center for Health Equity contribute a variety of resources (data, health promotion expertise, sharing of best practice programs, etc) that support long-term reduction of poor birth outcomes.  This partnership was created to raise awareness of the seriousness of infant mortality in the state and provide accurate data and data analysis.

SIDS is most common for infants two to four months of age who appear healthy, but die without warning during sleep.  Since the Back to Sleep Campaign, SIDS deaths have decreased by about 50 percent.  With the Back to Sleep campaign, we  learned babies who sleep on their tummies are at five times greater risk of SIDS and babies placed on their tummies to sleep who usually sleep on their backs are at an increased rate of 18 times greater risk.  Local research also found that 67 percent of the infants diagnosed with SIDS are found unresponsive in unsafe sleeping environments, i.e. not on their backs, in adult beds and in smoking environments.

“I ask you to join us in this effort to keep our youngest, most vulnerable community members safe,” said Moser.

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