SIDS is the number one cause of death in babies, but before the end of the year, new parents in Pennsylvania will be better prepared to prevent this type of tragedy. A new law requires all hospitals to educate new mothers about infant safe sleep practices.
More than 80 babies died in Pennsylvania in 2008, due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but the number of SIDS deaths has dropped 50 percent since the start of the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994.
Most parents, grandparents and other caregivers should know by now that you must place a baby on his or her back to sleep and keep blankets, bumper pads and stuffed animals out of the crib. According to Blair County Respiratory Disease Director Betsy Hurst, "an empty crib is a good crib and every parent will be taught that now."
The Society has been teaching that lesson for years and it sounds simple enough. But Blair County Coroner Patty Ross said, not enough people have been following those guidelines. She was called to three preventable baby deaths this year, including this one. "It was a baby in a crib with netting and soft toys and bumper pads and actually the sheet had wrapped around the baby's head, " Ross said.
The coroner says co-sleeping ---basically putting your baby in bed or on a couch with you is also a dangerous practice. This year, Ross investigated the deaths of two babies who suffocated in this way.
Ross added, "I'm sure there's times that people have slept with their children nothing has ever happened, but when they have to see me when I have to share their story, when I have to investigate their home and I have to help bury their babies, it makes a difference".
Ross and Hurst hope that under the new law, more parents and grandparents learn and use safe sleep practices so that more babies get to celebrate their first birthdays.
Hospitals across the state are required to begin this new SIDS education program by mid-December.
Unsafe cribs are also a danger to babies. To get a free safe crib, call the Blair County Respiratory Disease Society at 814-944-8222.