In the 1990’s, the federal government formally changed the recommendation for infant sleep from stomach sleeping to back sleeping with a national  “Back to Sleep” campaign. With that change, sleep-related infant deaths quickly fell by more than half in the US. But, a recent survey conducted by Cradle Cincinnati and the UC Institute for Policy Research shows that 1 in 4 Hamilton County residents still don’t know that babies sleep safest on their backs. This lack of awareness plays a role in a local rate of sleep related infant deaths that is much higher than the national average.

“Practicing safe sleep means always putting your baby to sleep on their backs, in their own cribs. It is one of the most important things we can do to keep our babies safe,” said Dr. Sam Hanke, Pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s and Cradle Cincinnati Safe Sleep lead. “It’s not always easy to practice these rules when new parents are often exhausted, but it can be a life or death decision.”

The survey also revealed that residents over the age of 45 and male respondents are both less likely to know that babies sleep safest on their backs.

“We need grandparents, family, friends and fathers all aligned around the same message,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kelly, co-founder of Cradle Cincinnati. “Anyone who puts a baby down to sleep needs to know that back is best. And, that means sharing this message with far more than just moms.”

Cradle Cincinnati will be launching a new public health messaging campaign to continue to spread this message in the coming months.

Since 2010, 88 Hamilton County babies have died in a sleep related accident. Cradle Cincinnati promotes the ABCs of safe sleep. Babies sleep safest Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib. Never put a baby to sleep on her stomach and never share an adult bed with a baby.

You can view the complete survey results here.

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