Monroe County Sees a Safer Year for Babies

new-years-eve-baby2016 was a safer year for infants in Monroe County with the news that the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating just three fatalities of infants occurring in unsafe sleep environments during 2016. Final rulings and statistics will not be released until September 2017.

The information was shared by Sue VanStrydonck, Co-Chair of the Baby Safe Sleep Coalition, at its annual end-of-the-year breakfast on Dec. 15, 2016.

“Three is still too many, although that number is certainly less than last year’s nine and our yearly average of 10,” she added. “We are grateful for the apparent decline in these preventable deaths, and encouraged that our efforts and joint programs with area hospitals, health professionals and agencies appear to be gaining ground.”

Baby Safe Sleep Coalition’s goal is eliminating preventable infant fatalities caused by unsafe sleep environments in Monroe County. Primarily a volunteer-run organization, it works to improve knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the risk of unsafe sleep environments in hopes of changing social norms and parent and caretaker behavior.

VanStrydonck and Co-Chair Joanne Cordaro, MD, shared Coalition successes in 2016 that included:

  • supplying safe sleep brochures (printed courtesy of Xerox Corporation) to the Monroe County Department of Public Health to include in the mailing of 9,962 birth certificates in 2015, and the distribution of safe sleep take-home kits to the parents of 10,718 babies born in local hospitals over the past 18 months;
  • supporting the efforts of Rochester Regional Health System/Rochester General Hospital in becoming the second hospital in our community to achieve the highest level recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program — Gold Safe Sleep Champion;
  • raising $3,000 and distributing 15 Pack N Plays (cribs) through the Coalition’s Safe Crib Project, and expanding relationships with URMC and RRHS outpatient social workers to assist in identifying needs, delivering resources and offering direct safe sleep education to patients;
  • joining others in New York in supporting an ultimately unsuccessful legislative ban on the sale of crib bumpers in the state, generating over 200 letters to Senate and Assembly representatives;
  • launching the first steps of a strategic planning process to ensure the future and ongoing mission of Baby Safe Sleep by conducting interviews with three local agencies, and
  • collaborating with the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong/Pediatric Sleep Medicine Services to develop a tip sheet for parents and caregivers called “Teach Your Baby To Be A Good Sleeper,” aimed at reducing instances where adults and babies co-sleep.

2017 goals include strengthening connections with local daycares and oversight agencies to ensure that current safe sleep practices are taught and enforced and continuing to pursue a state-wide ban on the sale of crib bumpers in New York State.

“Every year, we rely on the dedication and efforts of our Coalition members in educating the community on the vital importance of following safe sleep recommendations. We rely on their community connections, expertise and willingness to share their time to spread the word about safe sleep for infants,” VanStrydonck added.