Only 44 percent of parents or other caregivers in the U.S. always put their infants to sleep on their backs, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. This is despite ample evidence that doing so reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and suffocation. And many others jeopardize the lives of babies by allowing them to sleep in beds with adults or in cribs that contain soft objects like toys and comforters.

Sleeptight Hampton Roads has aligned 23 regional health organizations with the collective mission of creating a community culture that embraces infant safe sleep through collaboration, partnership and action. In 2016, 32 infants died in eastern Virginia as the result of unsafe sleep practices.

“Remember ABC,” says C.W. Gowen, MD (pictured above, far right), Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at EVMS and a neonatologist at Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters. “Put babies to bed alone, on their backs and in a crib.” Dr. Gowen spoke at a recent news conference attended by representatives of EVMS, local hospitals, public health and social services departments, and organizations focused on preventing child abuse.

“This initiative is a product of the efforts of regional stakeholders from the Healthy Homes, Healthy Children work group,” says Cynthia Romero, MD, Director of the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health at EVMS. “It is a collective approach designed to address the high number of infant deaths in our community as a result of unsafe sleep practices.” 

Sleeptight Hampton Roads’ goal is to make sure that all the region’s residents understand the importance of safe sleep for infants. “We all say ‘It’s as simple as ABC,’ but in this case, that phrase takes on lifesaving importance for the babies in our community,” says Trish O’Brien , President and CEO of CHIP (Children’s Health Investment Program) of South Hampton Roads. “Together, we can move the needle on infant death in our region.”      

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