Mississippi's department of health is kicking off a campaign to combat the number of sleep related infant deaths in the state. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, they hope using the ABC's of infant sleep safety will curb that number.
Mississippi's Department of Health is designating Jackson a Safe Sleep City. The effort is a part of an initiative to educate Mississippians about Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome. State Health Officer Mary Currier says, Mississippi leads the nation in infant mortality deaths with more than 300 per year. Jackson, she says, leads the state with more than 50 such deaths annually. Currier says some of those deaths are related to how babies are put to sleep and some can be prevented by knowing the ABC's of infant safety.
"The child should sleep alone, on their back, in a crib on a firm mattress not a mushy thing with pillows all around them even though that looks really cute, it's not safe for the baby in a smoke free environment," said Currier.
Currier says sleeping with an infant can suffocate the child. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, is a father of two girls, one of whom is a six-month old. He's concerned about getting the word out.
"We seriously have to promote this as an issue. There are some people who have done things for a generations and feel that it's okay but it only takes an instant," said Lumumba.
Dr. Charlene Collier is with the health department. She says they'll be partnering with mayors statewide and getting medical providers to join the effort.
"So that when a family comes in they're being asked, 'do you have a safe place for your baby to sleep and which position is your baby sleeping,'" said Collier.
Collier says people can contact Crib for Kids, a program sponsored by the Mississippi Sids and Infant Safety Alliance for help. A website is also coming on line called safesleepms.org.