Johnstown Independent

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Columbus health officials spread word about sleep safety


Columbus Public Health and the Ohio Department of Health are collaborating on a public-awareness campaign aimed at protecting babies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS.

It's called the ABC's of safe sleep -- "babies should sleep 'alone,' on their 'backs' and in a safety-approved 'crib,' " according to health officials.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there, depending on your generation," said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for Columbus Public Health.

Infants should not sleep with animals, in bed with their parents or siblings, or in cribs with toys or other objects, all of which heighten the risk of suffocation, Rodriguez said. That includes blankets and crib bumpers.

Babies who sleep on their backs also are less likely to choke, he said.

Every week in Ohio, three babies die in unsafe sleep conditions -- including adult beds, couches and chairs. In Columbus, 79 infants died from 2009-2011 because of unsafe sleep habits.

Rodriguez said Columbus Public Health officials, along with the the Franklin County Coroner and Columbus police and fire officials, review the death of every infant under the age of 1.

He said many deaths are preventable. For example, one baby died of suffocation after getting wedged between two mattresses that had been shoved together.

"It takes very little," Rodriguez said. "A baby is very fragile."

Columbus will spend $200,000 on the campaign, courtesy of a grant from the Central Benefits Health Care Foundation, said Erica Rosenthal, infant safe sleep manager for Columbus Public Health.

The campaign, which runs through March 2015, includes a full slate of electronic and print advertising, public-service announcements and social media updates. It will be in concert with messaging from the Ohio Department of Health.

"We're trying to complement each other and get the most frequency in the market, reach the most people who can see the ads," Rosenthal said.

Meanwhile, the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force is working on a similar mission -- reducing the infant mortality rate by 40 percent overall and cutting the racial disparity in half.

The task force has been meeting monthly since January and should submit draft recommendations by the end of July.