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New Program Aims To Reduce Number Of Infant Deaths

Valentina Powers

Every woman who gives birth at one of seven Indiana University Health hospitals across the state will receive a sleep sack through a new initiative to decrease infant deaths.  The sacks are like wearable blankets, unlikely to get caught around a baby’s nose and mouth.

The initiative is funded through a partnership with Riley Children’s Health and the Indianapolis Colts, and Riley’s Dr. Kim Schneider says unsafe sleep practice is one of the top three causes of infant death in Indiana, but it is a preventable one.

"A lot of the deaths that we were previously calling SIDS or other things are actually due to unsafe sleep practices," Schneider says. 

Indiana has the tenth worst overall infant mortality rate in the nation: around eighty babies die each year.

The new initiative is paired with an educational component, and Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams says more education is necessary to change the culture of infant care.

"We know the right things to do, we know the ABC’s, Alone on your Back in a Crib, we know prenatal care, we know don’t smoke but we have to get that message out," Adams says. 

Two years ago, Indiana adopted the Labor of Love initiative to reduce the infant mortality rate.  The theme of next week’s Labor of Love conference is success through partnerships, like this one. 

Adams says poor sleeping habits are a real problem in Indiana. 

"In 2014 the rate of Indiana babies who died due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed was twice -- two times -- the national average," Adams says. 

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