Mrs. Deal, others urge parents to reduce risk of SIDS

Published 5:01 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Safe Sleep for Babies at Every Sleep Time

ATLANTA – Today the First Lady of Georgia, the State of Georgia Children’s Cabinet, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a joint effort to educate parents and caregivers about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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In October of each year, SIDS Awareness Month is observed nationally and in Georgia.

As a mother and grandmother, Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal knows the critical importance of telling all parents and caregivers about SIDS and the risk factors that contribute to it. Most importantly, there are things that can be done to help prevent SIDS and reduce the risk of infant sleep-related deaths.

“Every child’s death is a tragedy for a family and a community,” says Mrs. Deal. “Loss of life during infancy, especially if it is sudden and unexpected is even more horrific, especially if the loss was preventable.”

In 2010, 244 babies in Georgia died before they reached their first birthday. 193 of those deaths were sleep-related. Today, First Lady Sandra Deal, the State of Georgia Children’s Cabinet, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics unveiled signage that will be placed in government buildings throughout the State of Georgia reminding everyone about the safest way to put a baby down to sleep.

To help reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths parents and caregivers need to know that the safest way for healthy babies to sleep is alone, on their backs, in a crib. A-B-C. Always.

“This is a challenge for all of us and it will take all of us to spread the words that will save precious young lives in Georgia. Alone. Back. Crib. Always, without exception,” says Brenda Fitzgerald M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

In 1994, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began to educate parents, caregivers and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS. The Back to Sleep campaign was named for its recommendation to place healthy babies on their backs to sleep, the most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of SIDS. Since that campaign began, the percentage of infants placed on their backs to sleep has increased dramatically and the overall SIDS rate has declined 50 percent. The expanded Safe to Sleep campaign now builds on the success of Back to Sleep.

“While the cause of SIDS is unknown, and there is no sure way to prevent SIDS, we do know that certain steps can be taken by parents to reduce the likelihood of SIDS,” according to Dr. Robert Wiskind, president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Over the past 20 years physicians and researchers have determined many factors that increase the risk of SIDS and identified other practices that can keep babies safe.”

Those practices include breast-feeding your baby. When you’re finished feeding, put your baby back to sleep alone, on his or her back, in a crib. You can place the crib or basinet or portable play area next to your own bed so the baby will still sense your presence, but will sleep much more safely. A pacifier also helps reduce SIDS, but don’t attach it to the baby with a string or cord. Don’t smoke during pregnancy and don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby. Be sure your baby gets plenty of tummy time when he or she is awake and someone is watching. And of course, regular check-ups and immunizations are important for infants, babies and children of all ages.

For more information about SIDS and Safe to Sleep for Babies log onto:


About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. In 2011, the General Assembly restored DPH to its own state agency after more than 30 years of consolidation with other departments. At the state level, DPH functions through numerous divisions, sections, programs and offices. Locally, DPH funds and collaborates with Georgia’s 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. Through the changes, the mission has remained constant – to protect the lives of all Georgians. Today, DPH’s main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information about DPH, visit