Baltimore Health Officials Encourage Parents to Follow the ABC’s to Prevent Sleep Infant Deaths


Media Contacts:

Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763

BALTIMORE, MD (December 4, 2017) – Baltimore health officials and B’more for Healthy Babies partner organizations today urged families to follow safe sleep practices in response to a spike in the number of sleep related infant deaths. Despite a record low infant sleep-related deaths in 2016 (7), 12 babies have died in their sleep so far this year in Baltimore City. Baltimore previously experienced a record high of 27 infant sleep-related deaths in 2009.

In 2015, Baltimore City experienced the lowest infant mortality rate on record: 8.4 per 1,000 live births—a 38 percent decrease since the implementation of B'more for Healthy Babies in 2009. Major decreases in sleep-related infant deaths have greatly contributed to this drop.

“We have made progress in reducing sleep-related infant deaths in Baltimore, but this we took a step back,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “All committed partners across our city have to continue to educate parents about the A-B-C-D method to healthy sleep to keep our babies safe.” 

In Baltimore, the second leading cause of infant mortality is sleep-related infant deaths, behind complications related to preterm birth and low birth weight.   

Between 2009 and 2016, 122 babies in Baltimore died in their sleep. Almost every time (116 of 122), the baby was sleeping in an unsafe sleep environment.  This includes babies who died while sleeping on an adult bed or a sofa, in soft bedding, on their stomach or side, or with heavy blankets or pillows in the crib.

The B’more for Healthy Babies initiative (BHB) is led by the Baltimore City Health Department, Family League of Baltimore, Health Care Access Maryland, and implemented with more than 150 partner agencies from the corporate, nonprofit, academic, philanthropic, and government sectors. In 2010, BHB launched the “SLEEP SAFE” campaign to encourage parents to put their babies to sleep following the A-B-C-D method, “Alone. Back. Crib. Don’t Smoke. No Exceptions,” which has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of infant deaths.

“We appreciate all of our partners who continue to help us spread the word about the ABCs of Sleep: babies should be put to sleep Alone, on their backs, in cribs, no smoking, and no exceptions,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “As a new mother of a three month old, I know that women receive all types of conflicting advice, so we want to be clear: we can save lives by following these simple, science-based ABCDs of Safe Sleep. We have a moral imperative to ensure that families have the knowledge and resources so that babies can thrive.”   

Partner efforts to lower the infant mortality rates include:

  • Showing  videos to every family in the hospital after a baby is born and in other places, like medical waiting rooms
  • Training more than 4,000 health and social services providers in Baltimore on the A-B-C-D method of Safe Sleep in order to educate patients and other clients
  • Helping hundreds of low-income families access safe cribs
  • Providing home visiting services to thousands of expecting mothers
  • Engaging communities with community health workers who teach the SLEEP SAFE message in barbershops, public markets, libraries, health fairs, and door to door canvassing.

For help in getting a crib, or with accessing health services, contact HealthCare Access Maryland at 410-649-0500.

Download an informational flyer about resources to help you to keep your babies healthy.

PDF iconHoliday Safe Sleep - One Pager.pdf

For more information about Safe Sleep resources available through B’more for Healthy Babies, please visit:

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