City Health Officials Offer Tips to Keep Babies Safe During Cold Winter Months

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (February 9, 2016)– Baltimore health officials are urging parents and caregivers to keep babies safe while keeping them warm during the cold weather. While Baltimore City set a record low for infant sleep-related deaths in 2014, the cold weather months present a higher risk for these types of deaths, as the desire to keep babies warm may inadvertently lead instead to tragedy.

“Education is the key to changing behavior to prevent these tragic deaths,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Babies can be overheated with too many layers on or can suffocate under blankets. This risk is increased by exposure to tobacco smoke in the home. Families and caregivers can take steps today to keep infants safe and warm.”

These steps include:

  1. Babies should ALWAYS sleep Alone, on their Back, in a Crib in a smoke free environment.
  2. In colder weather, dress babies in a wearable blanket or one-piece pajama.For an extra layer of warmth, a onesie or undershirt can be put underneath either of these.
  3. Avoid covering babies with blankets and comforters which can suffocate a baby.
  4. Hats should not be worn because they can slide down accidentally and cover the baby’s face.
  5. The room that a baby is sleeping in should be at a temperature comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult, (i.e. 72 degrees).

“Everyone needs to know the ABCs of Safe Sleep— that babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in Cribs, without exposure to secondhand smoke. No exceptions,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “This is the best way to ensure babies stay healthy and are ready to thrive.”

In 2009, Baltimore City had the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the nation. The Baltimore City Health Department and over 150 public and private partners formed the B'more for Healthy Babies (BHB) program to ensure that all babies are born at a healthy weight, full-term and ready to thrive in healthy families. BHB works to decrease the three leading causes of infant death: premature birth, low birth weight birth, and unsafe sleep. Since the program’s inception, Baltimore’s infant mortality rate has dropped by over 20 percent, hitting its lowest point ever recorded. Disparities between black and white infant deaths have decreased by 40 percent. As a result of B’More for Healthy Babies, the teen birth rates in the city have dropped by an unprecedented 36 percent.

BHB is led by the Baltimore City Health Department, in partnership with the Family League of Baltimore and HealthCare Access Maryland, and implemented with partner agencies from the corporate, nonprofit, academic, donor, and government sectors. The initiative has a strong community outreach and mobilization program that operates in Upton/Druid Heights, Park Heights, Patterson Park, and other neighborhoods. 

"At Family League, we work every day to ensure that we help provide an environment in which children can thrive from birth through career,” said Jonathon Rondeau, president and CEO of Family League of Baltimore, a partner on the campaign. "By continuing to utilize this collective-impact approach, we can makes strides to tackle the all-too-high infant mortality rate in Baltimore. Together we can ensure that Baltimore’s babies are born healthy and grow up healthy, ready for success.”

For more information on the B’more for Healthy Babies campaign, visit http://www.healthybabiesbaltimore.com.

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