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Connecticut Launches Safe Sleep Campaign Promoting Safe Sleep Environments for Infants

February 2, 2016

CT Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz at Day Kimball Hospital February 2, 2016, to announce Connecticut's new statewide campaign to educate parents about safe sleep conditions for infants. Katz was joined in making the announcement by DKH President and CEO Robert Smanik (far left) and DCF Regional Administrator Allon Kalisher (far right), along with Lynn Johnson, division director for the CT Office of Early Childhood and Sarah Eagan from the Office of the Child Advocate.

The Connecticut departments of Children and Families, Public Health, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Office of Early Childhood, and the Office of the Child Advocate along with the Connecticut Hospital Association, Day Kimball Healthcare, Yale New Haven Health Systems and Casey Family Programs gathered today at Day Kimball Hospital to launch a statewide campaign promoting safe sleep environments for infants. The statewide campaign will distribute information to parents of newborns discharged from the hospital through a variety of means including door hangers, posters, booklets and a microsite informing parents and families about safe sleep.

In April 2014, the Office of the Child Advocate issued data from 2001-2013 reporting that the number of Connecticut infants who died where unsafe sleep conditions were present was almost three times the number of infants who died of child abuse. The public health alert also stated that infants in Connecticut are more likely to die from unsafe sleeping conditions than from child abuse, car accidents, choking, drowning, falls, or any other form of accidental injury.

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz said the safe sleep campaign represents an important stride in establishing a collaborative network focused on improving outcomes for children and keeping them safe. “Many experts in the field of child well-being have stressed that promoting child safety is a community-wide responsibility,” Commissioner Katz said. “So this campaign that reflects the partnership of so many state agencies, advocates, national experts, private providers and the medical community is an important advance in working together to protect children.”

Infant fatality risk factors include:

  • Sleeping in adult beds with adults and other children;
  • Sleeping in beds with comforters, blankets and duvets;
  • Sleeping on couches or chairs when caregivers sleep holding them;
  • Sleeping in cribs with stuffed animals, blankets, toys and other items;
  • Overdressing/overheating baby; and
  • Propping bottles.

Additional parental risk factors associated with sudden infant death include:

  • Mental health challenges, including depression;
  • Substance use, including alcohol or drugs;
  • Smoking;
  • Obesity; and 
  • Parental isolation.

“Parents want to do all they can to help keep their children healthy and safe,” said Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Myra Jones-Taylor. “By providing parents with information and resources, we can help them make sure their babies are sleeping as safely as possible.”

In an effort to prevent infant deaths related to unsafe sleep environments, legislators passed a bill last year requiring hospitals to provide parents of newborns with written informational materials containing the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations concerning safe sleep practices at the time of the infant’s discharge from the hospital. That legislation followed implementation of a new Department of Children and Families policy early in 2014, calling upon social workers to educate families of infants under the age of one each time the social worker conducts a home visit. Under the new policy, if the family does not have a safe crib or "pack and play" for the infant to sleep, the Department provides one.

The Safe Sleep campaign materials were developed based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and were focus-group tested with Connecticut parents, pediatricians and home visitors. Materials are available online at www.ctoec.org/safe-sleep and through home visiting providers, federally qualified health centers, Family Resource Centers, Healthy Start program sites, and birthing hospitals throughout the state.


Related Resources

DKH Family Advocacy Programs 
Primary Care: Pediatrics
Women's Health: OB/GYN

 

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