Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child under the age of one year.
The top three causes of infant mortality in Summit County are:
- Premature birth – a birth that takes place more than 3 weeks before the baby’s estimated due date
- Unsafe sleep environments or practice – We will dive deeper into this but examples include co-sleeping, sleeping position or sleeping environment
- Birth Defects – This could include genetic diagnoses, exposure to medications/chemicals/other agents during pregnancy, heart defects, etc.
Safe Sleep Practices
What is Safe Sleep?
This could be due to a number of factors, sleeping position, sleeping surface, sleeping environment, cultural customs and belief, simply not knowing safe sleep practices and the recommendations.
What is Unsafe Sleep?
Anything in the caretaker’s control that could increase an infant’s risk of sleep-related death.
This could be due to a number of factors, sleeping position, sleeping surface, sleeping environment, cultural customs and belief, simply not knowing safe sleep practices and the recommendations
In Ohio there are 3 unsafe sleep deaths each week
45% due to an infant sleeping in an adult bed
50+ babies died due to unsafe sleep practices in Summit and Mahoning Counties
Putting safe sleep deaths into perspective, statewide in Ohio there are 3 unsafe sleep deaths each week, which equates to ~150 infant unsafe sleep deaths per year.
45% of those that were due to an infant sleeping in an adult bed (co-sleeping).
Between the years of 2013-2019, there were 50+ babies that died due to unsafe sleep practices in Summit and Mahoning Counties. The majority of those families were either co-sleeping with their babies in bed, or in the care of someone other the parent/primary caregiver who was not aware of safe sleep practices.
That is 50+ babies who lives were lost, and at least 50 mothers/caregivers who experienced an excruciating loss. This solidifies why the work that we are doing surrounding safe sleep education and access to a safe place to sleep is important.
There is a disproportionate number of black infants (under the age of 1) dying in Summit County. A Non-Hispanic, African American baby is 2.5-3 times more likely to die than a Non-Hispanic white baby in Summit County, not factoring in other disparities such as marital status, socioeconomic status, or level of education.
Specifically for safe sleep deaths, hot spot zip codes are also expanding (44305, 44306, 44310, 44320, and newly added 44314). Our efforts at ACH are focused on all races and ethnicities, but there is special attention being placed on our African American mothers, who are losing their babies at a much higher rate.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
What is it?
SIDS is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than one year old.
Although SIDS is not always due unsafe sleep, it can include factors such as sleeping position, sleeping surface, and sleeping environment.
What are the risk factors?
Age: SIDS is most common for babies between 1 and 4 months. But it can happen at any time during the first year of life.
Time of year: Infants born around the colder months are at a disadvantage because as parents, we want to ensure our babies are comfortable when they’re sleeping – it’s just our natural instinct. So, during the winter, when the temperature is lower, babies are more likely to have blankets in their sleeping environment, which is a red flag for safe sleep practices.
Health status: Premature babies are at a higher risk due to their health status as well, and may have other compromising conditions that could attribute to SIDS (respiratory issues, heart complications, etc.).
Race: Black babies are 2.5-3 times more likely to die due to SIDS and this does not take into account any other type of disparity such as education level, marital status, or socioeconomic status.
How can I reduce my baby’s risk of SIDS?
- Follow safe sleep practices
- Don’t smoke around baby
- Breastfeed baby, if possible
- Make sure yourbaby receives all necessary vaccinations
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