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TDOH encourages parents to not let children sleep in car seats for extended time periods

The Tennessee department of Health is encouraging parents to take note while traveling this holiday season, be sure to remove sleepy little ones from their car seats as soon as you get to your destination. Car seats are not recommended for routine sleep and can lead to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).

Babies should sleep ALONE, on their BACK and in a CRIB. In 2020, there were 115 infant deaths that resulted from, or were associated with an unsafe sleep environment in Tennessee. Most of these deaths were preventable.

BEST for Babies – Hospital Project

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The Tennessee Department of Health is partnering with hospitals across Tennessee to spread the Safe Sleep message to parents and caregivers.

Sleep-related infant deaths account for 20 percent of all infant deaths in Tennessee. Since 98.7 percent of Tennessee babies are born in hospitals, they play an important role in educating new parents and caregivers about ways to keep babies safe while sleeping.

The Tennessee Department of Health has partnered with 100% of birthing hospitals and 5 non-delivery hospitals across Tennessee to spread the safe sleep message to parents and caregivers.

These hospitals have agreed to:

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  • Develop and implement hospital Safe Sleep policy, which at minimum contains
    1. At least annual education to all perinatal staff (OB, peri/postpartum and pediatrics) on Safe Sleep recommendations
    2. Requirements for staff to model Safe Sleep recommendations
    3. Plan for at least quarterly internal compliance audits with hospital policy
  • Submit annual report on educational activities and staff compliance to Tennessee Department of Health

Direct On Scene Education (D.O.S.E) Project

Lt. James Carroll of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Fire and Rescue Department – in conjunction with The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward, Inc. – created the Direct On Scene Education Program for first responders out of concern for the growing number of sleep-related deaths reported in Broward County., FL. Since its inception in 2012, D.O.S.E. has become a model program that has been adopted by several agencies across the country, including the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH).

When responding to an emergency or non-emergency call from a household with a pregnant woman or infant, first responders are trained to look for possible unsafe sleep conditions and offer the residence a safe sleep kit with information on the ABCs of Safe Sleep. The kits are assembled and provided by TDH staff. All participating first responder agencies also receive a limited number of cribs from TDH to distribute to families that cannot afford one on their own.

Safe Sleep Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep at night and at nap time. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Babies should always sleep in a crib. The safest place for a baby is in the same room as the parents but alone in a separate sleep area.
  • Keep loose objects, soft toys, and bedding out of the baby’s sleep area. Do not use pillows and blankets in a baby’s sleeping area. A baby should sleep in a crib with only a tight fitting sheet.
  • Avoid letting your baby overheat during the night. A baby should be dressed lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
  • Do not use crib bumpers. These do not reduce injuries and can cause suffocation.
  • Avoid smoking. Both maternal smoking during pregnancy and secondhand smoke after birth should be avoided.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.

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