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NYC Administration for Children's Services: The City's child welfare agency, dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families

Press Release

December 17, 2002

Administration for Children’s Services Educates To Reduce Risk Of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

-ACS Commissioner Offers Safety Tips About “Healthy Sleep” for Children

New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell today reminded parents and caregivers of the dangers of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and of steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of this tragic incident.

“The loss of a child is a tremendous tragedy to parents, caretakers and to society as a whole. There is no known cause for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but there are risk factors. We believe that by making parents aware of these factors as well as other measures for safe sleep, we are helping them to take the necessary steps to keep these young children healthy and safe,” said Commissioner Bell.

SIDS is defined as the sudden, unexpected death of any infant or young child, usually between the ages of one month and one year, with peak incidence at two to four months and is most often associated as occurring during sleep, with no signs of suffering. Because there are a number of other preventable factors that can cause infant death during sleep, SIDS is only determined as the cause of death after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of clinical history.

Last year, according to the New York City Medical Examiner’s office (NYCME), 20 children died of SIDS, and in 2000, 50 children died of SIDS. This number has been on the decline since 1994, when a national collaborative public heath campaign called “Back to Sleep” was launched to raise awareness and promote safe sleep for children.

According to the New York State Center for Sudden Infant Death, risk factors for SIDS include prone face down sleeping, low birth weight, lack of prenatal care, maternal age below 20, prenatal drug exposure and pre- and post-natal cigarette smoke exposure.

The following safety precautions are recommended to reduce the risk of SIDS and to help keep children safe from other hazards while they sleep:

  • Always place children to sleep on their back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety guidelines. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 1999 to 2001, at least 180 children under the age of two died after being placed in adult beds;
  • Do not smoke cigarettes around children since this could make breathing during sleep difficult for babies;
  • Do not sleep with babies. Risk for suffocation increases if you are exhausted from sleep deprivation or have been using drugs or alcohol;
  • Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft products from the crib, playpen or portable crib;
  • Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering;
  • Make sure children’s heads remain uncovered during sleep;
  • And finally, do not place children on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow or other soft surface to sleep.

For more information about SIDS and risk reduction, please contact the New York City SID Center at 212-686-8854. For educational materials, including brochures, videos and posters, please contact the National Back-to-Sleep Campaign at 1-800-505-2742.

The New York City Administration for Children’s Services protects and ensures the safety and well being of New York City’s children and serving families. Formed in 1996, the agency oversees the City’s programs of child protection, foster care, preventive services, adoption, child support enforcement, childcare and Head Start.

ACS Press Office
Phone: 212-341-0999
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