Milwaukee Health Department Hopes New Infant Safe Sleeping Guideline Reduces Infant Deaths
Data from the Milwaukee Health Department shows nearly 15 percent of infant deaths in the city are due to unsafe sleeping conditions, and a Milwaukee health official is hoping new safe sleeping guidelines for newborns from the American Academy of Pediatrics will help bring the rate down.
Jessica Gathirimu is the director of family and community health at the health department. She said the updated guidelines are in line with what the health department has been teaching, but one new and different recommendation is advising parents to share a room with their child for at least the first six months of life.
This will still allow the parent and child to bond, Gathirimu said, and she expects following the new recommendations will have a positive impact.
"Now that we know more and there's more research, having that information empowers us to do things differently and to do things better," Gathirimu said.
The department will continue to raise awareness by offering safe sleep clinics for expecting parents. The safe sleep clinics are in line with new data showing parents sharing a room with their newborn can reduce infant deaths by 50 percent, Gathirimu said.
Although infant mortality among African-American babies is the highest, it is usually due to premature births, she said.
"We see a higher percentage of infants, white infants, dying from unsafe sleep environments than we do African-American infants," Gathirimu said.
She said other guidelines such as having a child sleep on their back and using a firm mattress were already being taught by the city.
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