Originally Released: October 13, 2000
Contact: Ellen Beth Levitt, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-328-8919
UM Center for Infant and Child Loss Distributes "Back to Sleep" T-Shirts to New Parents in October
In recognition of National SIDS Awareness Month, seven Maryland hospitals are joining Maryland's First Lady Frances Hughes Glendening and the University of Maryland Center for Infant and Child Loss in educating parents about the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Throughout October, children born at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children and other participating hospitals will be given an infant-sized T-shirt, which reads, "I sleep safest on my back. Also taking part in the awareness campaign are Maryland General Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, Sinai Hospital, Saint Agnes Hospital, Harbor Hospital, and Union Memorial Hospital.
SIDS is the unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant. The exact causes of SIDS are unknown, but research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that putting infants on their back to sleep greatly reduces the risk of SIDS. Since the "Back To Sleep" awareness campaign began in 1994, SIDS deaths decreased more than 35 percent in Maryland and across the United States.
These charming, infant-sized tee shirts remind parents, family members and caregivers placing babies on their back to sleep literally saves lives. Everyone must learn this vital lesson, says Mrs. Glendening, spokesperson for the Maryland SIDS Awareness Coalition.
Despite Back To Sleep awareness efforts and a steady decline in SIDS deaths, experts believe more education is needed. More than 4,000 infants die from SIDS each year in the United States, including about 50 infants in Maryland. A recent study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine showed that only 42 percent of parents living in urban areas regularly place their babies on their back to sleep. In addition, African-American parents are twice as likely to place their children to sleep on their stomach than other groups.
Most SIDS deaths occur within the first three months of life, but many parents don't know their babies are at risk, says Donna Becker, R.N., director of the University of Maryland Center for Infant and Child Loss. Many parents start out putting their children on their back to sleep and then switch to the stomach during this critical time. We have tremendous support from many hospitals here in Baltimore. Together we will get the word out to everyone and reduce the risk of SIDS in Maryland, adds Becker.
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