Education course prevents infant deaths

Published 7:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Mississippi State Department of Health is promoting a new program to educate families about safe sleep habits for newborns and toddlers.

MSDH is partnering with American Medical Response to train staff members to teach the program to others, called Direct On Scene Education, according to an MSDH press release.

Sudden infant death syndrome is a preventable problem, Dr. Abraham Rodriguez, a pediatrician at Highland Community Hospital, said.

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Though he has seen a decrease of SIDS, he said the most common cases stem from suffocation.

The DOSE program was created to reduce the number of sleep-related deaths by removing hazards.

“There are no safe toys to leave with a baby unattended in a crib,”

Rodriguez said.

Instructions for how a baby should be positioned for sleep and what should be included in cribs have changed in recent years, he said.

Babies should sleep on their backs, never their sides or stomachs, Rodriguez said.

They should only have a light blanket to sleep with and it is recommended not to use crib pads, he said.

Clinical Education Manager for AMR in Mississippi Ryan Wilson said in the release, “When we look at our data, we notice an alarmingly high rate of infant mortality, and based on the experiences of myself and other field providers, it seems many of these were accidental and could have been prevented.”

Rodriguez said a number of infant suffocations are the result of a parent’s falling asleep while holding a child. Either the parent or the baby can roll over and obstruct the child’s ability to breathe.

Babies can even choke on soft toys, like teddy bears or smaller item, so they should always be supervised.

“Anything can be possible,” Rodriguez said.

According to MSDH, Mississippi’s infant mortality rate is 8.2 per 1,000 births, the highest in the country.

However, that rate declined 15 percent between 2010 and 2014, yet is still above the national average of 6.1 per 1,000 births, the release states.

“The death of a child is usually much more difficult to handle for everyone involved, particularly when it is accidental, because the family now has to experience guilt on top of the grief. Our inspiration is to save as many children as we can and prevent this terrible situation from affecting more lives,” Wilson said in the release.

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About Julia Arenstam

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