Banner Desert Aims to Reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with New Program

May 23, 2016

MESA, Ariz. – Banner Desert Medical Center recently began a program designed to reduce Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, by teaching safe sleep practices to new families, and providing “Baby Boxes” to patients who don’t have a separate safe sleep environment (like a crib or bassinet) at home.


The Baby Boxes and educational component of the program are designed with safety in mind, helping to discourage unsafe practices such as sleeping in the same bed with an infant, or a baby sleeping in a crib with toys, pillows, or loose bedding and blankets.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1,500 U.S. infants died of SIDS in 2014. Although the causes of death in many of these children can’t be explained, most occur while the infant is sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment.


Banner Desert is among a small number of medical facilities in the country providing this service. March of Dimes provided a $10,500 grant to fund the program, which began at the hospital this month.


“The goal of our project is to increase education and awareness of expectant parents and new families about the various components of a safe sleep environment, in order to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and SIDS in Arizona,” said Suzanne Clinton, Women and Infant Services program manager at Banner Desert. “We are very excited to partner with March of Dimes and make a difference for the families that deliver at Banner Desert.”


The Labor and Delivery, and Couplet Care departments at Banner Desert have been providing new moms with basic education about safe bedding practices for years, but this program includes a more intensive focus on the topic. During the education process, nurses also assess whether a patient will be able to provide a separate sleep environment for their newborn. If not, the hospital will provide a Baby Box in which the newborn can sleep.


Nursing staff will follow up later with every family who receive a Baby Box, to ensure the baby remains in a safe sleep environment.


In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report identifying recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. In addition to placing babies on their backs to sleep, some of these recommendations include: using a firm sleep surface, avoiding soft bedding (no extra bedding or stuffed animals in sleeping areas); breastfeeding; room-sharing without bed sharing (keeping babies in parent’s rooms in their own sleep bed, not in the parent’s bed); routine immunization; offering a pacifier after breastfeeding is established (usually about 3 to 4 weeks of age); not overheating the baby with more clothing than necessary; and not smoking around babies.


Banner Desert Medical Center is a nonprofit hospital in Mesa, Arizona, providing a range of inpatient and outpatient services. The medical center is one of the most comprehensive hospitals in Arizona and serves as a regional referral center in the East Valley of metropolitan Phoenix. Banner Desert is recognized by U.S. News and World Report for high performance in seven clinical areas. The medical campus is also home to Cardon Children’s Medical Center. Both facilities are owned and operated by Banner Health, the largest provider of health care services in Arizona.


For information about the safe bedding practices program at Banner Desert, call Suzanne Clinton at (480)412-5292.