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BJC hospitals caring for newborns earn safe sleep designation

August 01, 2022
August 01, 2022

The statistics are devastating: Sudden unexpected infant death is the No. 1 cause of death in babies age 29 days to 1 year old. In the St. Louis area, and throughout Missouri, the rates are even higher than the national average of 93 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Over the past two years, BJC hospitals that care for newborns have been working hard to change those statistics by modeling safe sleep practices within the hospital and educating families on continuing safe sleep practices at home.

All of the BJC hospitals involved in those efforts are being recognized by the Cribs for Kids® National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program for their commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep.

“The team working on this safe sleep designation included physicians and nurses from each of the participating hospitals, all of whom wanted to improve infant mortality. Our focus was on improving safe sleep in the hospital and teaching parents and family members safe sleep practices while in the hospital so they know what to do once they are home,” says Bryanne Colvin, MD, neonatologist, Washington University School of Medicine assistant professor of pediatrics and physician lead of this initiative.

The Cribs for Kids® National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program recognizes hospitals and hospital systems for their commitment to infant safe sleep to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and unsafe sleep injuries.

SUID is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby’s sleep area. SUIDs include accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and unsafe sleep injuries.

The Cribs for Kids® National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program awards a gold, silver or bronze designation to hospitals that model and teach infant safe sleep according to current American Academy of Pediatrics best practices.

“This work that was done by members of the BJC Women and Infants department at each hospital has resulted in our hospitals earning Cribs for Kids gold and bronze certification,” says Dr. Colvin.

Alton Memorial Hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Memorial Hospital Shiloh, Parkland Health Center, Progress West Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital earned a gold certification while Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital earned a bronze certification. Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Christian Hospital and Memorial Hospital Belleville do not have childbirth centers and thus were not part of this certification process. However, these hospitals do offer safe sleep education to their local communities through various efforts.

Hospitals earned the gold level certification by educating families and staff about safe sleep, teaching families about the ABCDs of sleep (see more below), modeling safe sleep in the hospital, providing all families with sleep sacks and providing families in need with play yards for their infants to sleep in once they are home. The gold designation also takes into account community outreach. The hospitals with a gold designation held free virtual safe sleep classes, posted educational content on social media and provided safe sleep information at community events. The bronze level certification is similar to the gold certification, with the exception of community outreach and providing additional resources for families in need.

“This certification shows the commitment BJC HealthCare is making to infant safety and our commitment to best practices and patient education in supporting safe sleep,” Dr. Colvin says. “We know that modeling safe infant sleep in each of our hospitals and providing education to families has a significant effect on infant mortality.

“This effort was a huge success, and I am so proud of and grateful for all the hard work everyone did to achieve this designation,” Dr. Colvin adds. “It was a wonderful effort by everyone involved.”

Creating a safe sleep environment for babies — the ABCDs of sleep

All caregivers — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, babysitters, and childcare providers — should know how to help babies sleep safely. Research shows that there are some effective ways to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death syndrome and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Follow these ABCDs for every sleep:

A is for sleeping alone

  • Babies should always sleep in their own area and surface, such as a crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard.

  • No pillows, blankets, crib bumpers or stuffed animals in the sleep area.

  • Keep your baby in the same room with you, but not in the same bed.

B is for sleeping on their back

  • Placing babies on their back for every sleep lowers the risk of sudden unexpected infant death and other sleep-related deaths.

  • Babies are less likely to suffocate on other objects or their own gases when they are on their back.

  • If your baby rolls over on their own during sleep from back to stomach, there is no need to roll the baby over to their back again.

  • Starting sleep on the back is the most important thing for reducing SIDS risk.

  • Once your baby starts rolling, make sure to swaddle them with their arms out to allow natural movement, or stop swaddling and switch to a wearable blanket.

C is for sleeping in their crib

  • Choose a crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. For more information on crib safety, contact the CPSC at 800.638.2772 or cpsc.gov. or St. Louis Children’s Hospital Safety Stop.

  • Your baby should always sleep on a firm, flat surface with a fitted sheet.

  • Babies should never sleep on a sofa, armchair or couch.

  • Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort.

  • Place your baby back in the crib when you’re ready to sleep.

D is for don’t smoke around the baby

  • Keep baby zones smoke-free.

  • Exposure to cigarette smoke both before and after birth increases the chances of SUID.

  • As a parent, if you smoke, keep your car and home smoke-free.

  • Make sure people who smoke wash their hands and change their clothes before holding your baby.

Learn more about safe sleep guidelines and tips from St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Safe Sleep for Babies Act is designed to save infants’ lives

On May 16, President Joe Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021, banning the manufacture and sale of crib bumpers and certain inclined infant sleepers.

Two baby sleep products linked to nearly 200 infant deaths will soon be banned under federal law, a move child safety advocates say will save children's lives. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recorded 83 crib bumper-related deaths as well as 97 fatalities due to inclined sleepers.

This new law will save lives and protect babies by banning life-threatening crib bumper pads and inclined sleep products from store shelves.

What the new law does to protect infants

Some padded sleep products pose a significant risk to infants who can roll over onto the padded surfaces and suffocate. Inclined sleepers greater than 10 degrees that are "intended, marketed or designed" as a sleeping surface for children up to age 1 will be banned. This new law also prohibits products aimed at preventing babies from injuring themselves on the sides of a crib or fitting between the slats, such as padded crib bumpers, vinyl bumper guards and vertical crib slat covers. Non-padded mesh crib liners are excluded from the ban.

Experts say that padded crib bumpers pose a particular potential danger because babies may turn their face into the bumper's padding, raising the risk of suffocation, may become entrapped underneath or around the bumper, or may become entangled in the bumper's ties, increasing the risk of strangulation.

Inclined sleepers, greater than 10 degrees, could cause babies to be unable to breathe, due to the position they are in.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep alone and on their backs on a firm, flat surface. Both items will be designated as hazardous products banned under the Consumer Product Safety Act no later than 180 days after the law was enacted.

Source: Yahoo News

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