Team focuses on preventing infant deaths

April 20, 2004

Dear Editor:

As concerned citizens in this community and also members of the Boyle County Child Fatality Review Team, we would like to share some information with the public that can have a positive impact on the number of child deaths that occur. This multidisciplinary team reviews all childhood fatalities in our area in an effort to identify community factors that may be contributing to an increase in childhood deaths. Scientific evidence points to unsafe sleeping conditions as a leading cause of accidental infant deaths. Current literature supports the recommendation that all babies be placed on their back to sleep on a firm, flat surface with no pillows, comforters or other soft objects around them that may block the flow of fresh air to the infant. Studies suggest infants not share beds with parents, but room sharing (having the crib alongside the adult bed) may be beneficial.

"The SIDS Alliance continues to recommend that the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a safety-approved crib, on a firm mattress, with no loose or soft bedding around them," according to Deborah Boyd, executive director of the SIDS Alliance. The Alliance further suggests that you never place your baby to sleep on a sofa, waterbed, pillow, soft mattress or any other soft surface. Do not allow the infant to share a bed with brothers, sisters or relatives other than the baby's mother.


Parental substance use and/or abuse also can have a serious impact on the health of their infant child, both before and after. Mothers should not smoke or be exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant. The infant should not be exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. Use of alcohol and other drugs by the mother while pregnant can have serious impact on the child's health. Proper prenatal care is extremely important to the proper health of the mother and child. The committee hopes that by reinforcing these important health interventions and working together as an informed community, we can help reduce the number of infant deaths in Boyle County and the surrounding area.

Dr. James Ramey

Coroner and chairperson

Dr. Richard Hempel

Roger D. Trent

Public health director

Boyle County Child Fatality Review Team

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