Senator JonesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death among infants aged 1–12 months, and the third overall leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. The 2012 Ohio Child Fatality Review Report cites that there were 148 sleep-related deaths in 2010, constituting 14 percent of the 1,044 total infant deaths. From 2006-2010, 42 percent of all infant deaths after the first month of life were sleep-related. However, many of these deaths are preventable. In fact, the report also cites that if all sleep-related deaths were prevented, the Ohio infant mortality rate for 2010 would have been reduced from 7.7 to 6.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Parents, grandparents, and others who take care of babies want to do what is best for their children. Oftentimes, tired parents fall asleep with their babies on a couch or in a bed, which can lead to death for the infants. Guidelines for how a baby should sleep have changed through the years. Sometimes older family members advise new mothers on how their baby should sleep, but it may not be the safest way. Because so many mixed messages remain, we must set the record straight.

For this reason, I along with my colleague Senator Charleta Tavares have introduced Senate Bill 276. This bill will require safe sleep education materials to be distributed to new parents and provide a safe place for babies to sleep if a family is unable to provide for one of their own. Senate Bill 276 was passed by the Senate earlier this summer and is currently before the Health and Aging committee in the House of Representatives.

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To keep babies safe while sleeping, experts recommend following the ABCs of safe sleep. A baby should always sleep (A) Alone on a firm sleep surface covered by a fitted sheet, on his or her (B) Back, in a safety-approved (C) Crib free of soft objects including toys, loose bedding, and bumper pads. By following these recommendations, we can ensure more babies celebrate their first birthdays. For more information on how you can keep your babies safe, visit the Ohio Department of Health and American Academy of Pediatrics webpages.

It is my hope that this bill will help us reduce infant mortality and ensure that we can celebrate more first birthdays throughout the state. As always, please feel free to contact me by emailing, or by calling (614) 466-9737 with questions or comments.