University Medical Center partners with the Tennessee Department of Health to reduce infant deaths

Staff Reports • Updated Mar 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM

One of the top priorities of the Tennessee Department of Health is to reduce the state’s infant mortality rate, a measure of how many babies die before reaching their first birthday. 

TDH has discovered that 20 percent of all infant deaths in Tennessee are due to unsafe sleep practices. 

As part of the effort to save lives and lower Tennessee’s infant mortality rate, University Medical Center has agreed to partner with the Tennessee Department of Health in the effort to reduce infant mortality by creating a hospital safe sleep policy.  

“Infants should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. As a hospital committed to improving community health and lowering our infant mortality rate, we need to make sure parents know these simple rules and share this information with other people who may be putting infants down to sleep, including grandparents and other relatives” said Nancy Smith, director of Women’s Services at UMC.  

Studies have shown that parents observe doctors and nurses in hospitals and place their babies to sleep the same way they see their baby placed to sleep in the hospital.  University Medical Center’s new safe sleep policy will require staff members to implement safe sleep practices in the hospital.  

In addition, the policy will require all staff members that care for infants to be trained on safe sleep on an annual basis.  

Although SIDS numbers have decreased in Tennessee, other preventable sleep-related deaths are on the rise.  Causes of other sleep-related deaths include suffocation, such as when an adult rolls over on an infant or an infant is smothered by pillows or blankets.  In 2011, 109 sleep-related deaths occurred in Tennessee. In 2012, the infant mortality rate in Tennessee was 7.2, meaning that 7.2 babies out of every 1,000 born did not reach their first birthday.  Infant mortality rates in Tennessee and the United States lag far behind many other countries, including less-developed countries.

Safe sleep practices can prevent sleep-related deaths. University Medical Center promotes the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that infants should:

• always be placed on their backs to sleep.

• sleep alone in a crib or bassinet, although the crib or bassinet can be in the same room as an adult caregiver.

• not have bumper pads, blankets, stuffed animals, toys or pets in their cribs.

• sleep on a firm crib mattress with the mattress covered only by a fitted sheet.

University Medical Center is committed to the health and safety of all patients and is excited to partner with the Tennessee Department of Health in this effort to reduce infant deaths.  

For more information on sleep-related deaths, visit the TDH website at safesleep.tn.gov.  

University Medical Center is a 245-bed, two-campus acute health care facility with more than 230 physicians on staff and is fully accredited by the state of Tennessee, as well as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It is the seventh largest hospital in Middle Tennessee. The hospital has more than 800 full and part-time employees and is the sole provider of health care service in Wilson County.

For more information, call 615-444-8262 or visit universitymedicalcenter.com.

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