(Mineola, NY) – Today, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran joined County Health Officials in recognition of Infant Safe Sleep Month, designated by Governor Cuomo, stressing the need to raise awareness for safe sleep practices for infants. The County Executive was joined by Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein and DOH Director of Maternal-Child Health Services, Shelly Schechter to provide details on services that the County provides for new moms including “Cribs for Kids” and release updated data on infant fatalities in Nassau County. South Nassau Community Hospital’s Chief of Pediatrics, Dr. Warren Rosenfeld also joined the press conference to provide demonstrations and showcase safe and unsafe cribs on display in the hospital’s maternity floor – used for educational purposes.
“Unsafe sleep environments are the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year of age,” said County Executive Curran. “Nassau County’s Health Department is working diligently to prevent these tragedies by promoting safe sleep practices through early education programs in birthing hospitals and partnering with local agencies who distribute cribs to families in financial need to ensure a safe place for their infant to sleep.”
Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States, including nearly 100 infants in New York State, from sleep-related issues including sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
The Nassau County Child Fatality Review Team (NCCFRT), a multidisciplinary team that reviews fatalities of Nassau County residents age 0-17 years whose death is unexpected or unexplained has released the most recent summary report which includes cases reviewed from 2015 to 2017. Since 2008, when the NCCFRT started reviewing cases, a total of 35 infant deaths were reviewed where unsafe sleeping could not be eliminated as the cause of death. These cases revealed at least one of the following risk factors: bed sharing, prone sleep position, positional supports/sleep positioners, soft bedding and/or sleeping on adult bed or couch.
“After an initial decrease in the 1990s, the overall death rate attributable to sleep-related infant deaths has not declined in more recent years,” said Dr. Eisenstein. “The DOH works together with over 30 partner organizations that provide programs to educate new moms on the ABC’s of Safe Sleep: babies are safest when they sleep Alone on their Back in a Crib. Cribs should have a firm mattress, fitted sheet and nothing else. One of the DOH’s most successful and impactful partnerships is with Cribs for Kids which provides safe sleep education and safety-approved cribs if a family cannot otherwise afford one.”
The first referral to the Nassau County Chapter of Cribs for Kids was in 2015. To date, over 150 Nassau County infants have received cribs through this program.
If you know a resident in need that may qualify, please call the Health Department at 516-227-9460.
In addition, the County Cribs for Kids website contains several free apps for iPhone and Android users to help with infant safe sleep education as well as YouTube videos to assist families with education. For example, the “Safe Sleep Sweep” mobile app is a free bilingual low-literacy health education game that engages users in a game that has them rescue infants from unsafe sleep environments while teaching players safe sleep safety practices such as placing the infant on the back to sleep and other prevention techniques. The app was created by Cribs for Kids and Halo Innovations.
For more information about the services for new moms, please visit the Nassau County Department of Health’s Cribs for Kids website at https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/3533/Cribs-for-Kids