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Aultman Birth Center Strives to Reduce Sleep-related Infant Deaths

by Tiffany Pellegrene | Aug 27, 2014
The Aultman Birth Center is participating in multiple programs to reduce infant mortality in Stark County.

CANTON, Ohio (Aug. 25, 2014) – The Aultman Birth Center is participating in multiple programs to reduce infant mortality in Stark County.

The Ohio Hospital Association recently distributed 25,000 safe sleep kits to Ohio hospitals as part of the Safe Sleep is Good4Baby campaign. Each kit includes a “This Side Up” sleeper and a “Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug” book, along with a brochure and pocket card with infant safe sleep information. The materials come in an ABCs of Safe Sleep insulated diaper bag.

“According to the Ohio Department of Health, three Ohio babies die each week from sleep-related death,” said Melinda Wiles, RN, Aultman Birth Center outreach and bereavement coordinator. “Of the deaths reviewed in Stark County from 2011, 83.9 percent were due to natural causes. But 16.1 percent were preventable deaths due to suffocation in unsafe sleep environments.”

The Aultman Birth Center and Newborn Intensive Care Unit staff members are ramping up efforts to educate families about safe sleep and demonstrate the best ways for infants to sleep. “We educate mothers about the ABCs of safe sleep,” Wiles said. “Babies should sleep alone, not in bed with a parent or sibling. Babies should be placed on their backs and sleep in cribs.”

Mothers who deliver at Aultman can use HALO® SleepSack® wearable blankets for their newborns during their hospital stay, a product invented by a family impacted by infant loss. New moms will receive the Safe Sleep kits prior to discharge, while supplies last.

Three Stark County hospitals – Aultman, Alliance Community Hospital and Mercy Medical Center – are collaborating with the Canton City Health Department and other local organizations on an infant mortality task force. The three-year project, called Toward Health Resiliency for Infant Vitality and Equity (THRIVE), aims at studying factors that contribute to infant mortality, developing strategies that target the community’s needs and reducing the infant mortality rate in Stark County.

In addition to in-hospital efforts to educate new mothers and families, Aultman is raising awareness of infant safe sleep in the community. Clinical caregivers participate in health fairs and collaborate with the Aultman Working on Wellness (WOW) outreach program, which often reaches underserved members of the community. “We want to contribute to the health of our community by raising awareness,” Wiles said. “Our goal is to decrease infant mortality in Stark County by reducing sleep-related deaths.”

About 2,500 babies are born in the Aultman Birth Center annually. The facility includes private and spacious birthing suites where moms can remain for their entire hospital stay; a maternal-fetal medicine program for high-risk pregnancies; and a Level III newborn intensive care unit that delivers specialized care for premature and high-risk babies. 

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