CANTON — Even one infant death a year due to unsafe sleep practices is too many.
During a brief discussion at Monday night’s St. Lawrence County Services Committee meeting, Department of Social Services Interim Commissioner Heather L. Wenzel reported that at least two county infants are reported to have died each year because of unsafe sleeping practices.
County lawmakers passed a resolution that will come before the full board of legislators for approval that will proclaim June as the start of a year-long campaign encouraging safe sleep and well child care in St. Lawrence County.
“This resolution supports the efforts of the Child Fatality Review Team,” Ms. Wenzel told the legislators. “The team’s mission is to review reported child fatalities and to promote child safety. Too often in St. Lawrence County unsafe sleep practices lead to child fatalities or near fatalities. I’m encouraged by the team’s efforts and I’m a member of the team, to educate the community.”
The nonprofit Child Fatality Review Team is based at the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, 418 Washington St., Watertown. It’s funded by a state grant from the Office of Children and Family Services.
The team consists of about 25 people from Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties consisting of law enforcement, medical examiners, pediatricians, first responders and district attorneys.
Legislator James E. Reagen, R-Ogdensburg, asked Ms. Wenzel how many infants died as a result of the unsafe sleeping practices.
“I think I can report out pretty accurately, for the past four years or so, we have at least two every year, and sometimes more, that we at the Department of Social Services are aware of and are asked to investigate and provide support to families, but there are maybe others we are not aware of where a child protective services report was not called in,” Ms. Wenzel said. “It is very important work that the Child Fatality Team is doing. If we are even educating one family, it’s worth our efforts.”
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) is the sudden unexplained death of an infant under one year of age.
The resolution states that the ABCs (Alone on their Backs in a Crib) of Safe Sleep is the best way to prevent a sleep-related infant injury or death and babies are safest when they sleep alone on their backs in a crib, with a tightly-fitted sheet and without bumpers, pillows, blankets or stuffed animals and babies should not co-sleep with parents, siblings, pets or anyone else.
The Regional Child Fatality Review Team is making every effort to bring a vital awareness to the number of infant fatalities related to unsafe sleep and a the Regional Child Fatality Review is launching a year-long campaign to encourage safe sleep practices in St. Lawrence County.
Though the campaign, the Board of Legislators urged all citizens of the county to direct their attention to this critical issue and to support programs that promote safe sleep environments for infants.
In supporting efforts to prevent unsafe sleep deaths, the state has been promoting safe sleep environments through early education programs in hospitals and birthing centers and in distributing cribs to local departments of social services and community-backed organizations so that families in need have the resources to provide a safe sleeping environment for their infant, the resolution states.