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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 073-08
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti/Sara Markt, PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


Health Department Program Helps Prevent Infant Deaths by Providing Cribs to Low-Income Families

New Yorkers can give a crib to a family in need by donating to the Fund for Public Health in New York; Goal set to help 250 families this holiday season

Health Department will host online Q&A on baby health and safety at www.nyc.gov/health

December 10, 2008 – Every baby needs a crib to sleep safely, but some New York City infants are lacking cribs this holiday season, simply because their families can't afford them. The Health Department's Cribs for Kids program provides cribs at no-cost to families in need. Outreach workers contact new parents in eligible ZIP codes in the South Bronx, Harlem and Central Brooklyn to set up a home visit and see whether they need cribs or other assistance. The Health Department has provided cribs for more than 1,600 babies since May 2007, but many more families need help.

This week the Fund for Public Health in New York, a non-profit organization that supports Health Department initiatives, launched an online campaign to extend the reach of this low-cost, high-impact initiative. The Fund aims to raise enough money to distribute 250 cribs during this holiday season. A $100 donation will buy a complete "safe sleep survival kit," which includes the crib, sheets, netting and sleep-sack pajamas. Anyone can make a donation by visiting www.fphny.org or calling 212-266-7824.

"Times are tough for New York City families," said Deborah Kaplan, Assistant Commissioner for Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health at the Health Department. "But no family should lack a safe place for a new baby to sleep. Putting your baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib with no soft bedding will lower the risk of suffocation and SIDS. By providing cribs and education to families in need, we can help prevent these tragedies."

"The gift of a crib can lighten a parent’s load and brighten a baby’s holiday," said Sara Gardner, Executive Director of the Fund for Public Health in New York. "We ask that New Yorkers consider giving a crib to a family in need this holiday season. A gift of $100 will help one New York City baby sleep more safely."

About 60% of accidental infant injury deaths that occurred between 2004 and 2006 were caused by suffocation in an unsafe sleep environment such as a couch or shared bed (a total of 20 deaths). Though Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths continue to decline each year, ten infants died from SIDS in 2006. All of these deaths highlight the need to educate New York City’s parents and caregivers about the risks their babies face when sleeping.

The Cribs for Kids program has been shown to increase safe sleep practices. A survey of participating families showed that after receiving the crib and education session, families were:

  • Five times more likely to put their baby to sleep alone
  • Three times more likely to put their baby to sleep without soft bedding or other clutter
  • 60% more likely to put babies to sleep on their backs

The Health Department started working with the National Cribs for Kids program in 2007. Since then, the agency has provided cribs and safe-sleep education through its Newborn Home Visiting Program, which serves new parents with one visit from a health educator. Of the nearly 8,000 families this program visited in 2007, roughly one in six lacked a crib. The Health Department also distributes cribs and educates parents through the Nurse-Family Partnership, an intensive home visiting program for first-time mothers that begins during a woman’s pregnancy and continues until her child is two years old.

Safe sleep basics: What parents and caregivers need to know

  • Babies are safest sleeping alone. Sleeping with an adult or another child puts a baby at risk of being suffocated - especially if the adult who is sleeping with the baby is obese, or has been drinking or using drugs.
  • Babies should sleep on a firm mattress in a crib with no soft bedding. Pillows, stuffed animals, and bumpers all increase the risk of suffocation. Keep babies warm with sleep sacks instead of blankets.
  • Put babies on their backs to sleep. Babies should not be put to sleep on their stomachs or on their sides. Instead have tummy time" with your baby when she is awake. Babies can build muscles that way and keep the baby's head from flattening.

New Yorkers who have questions about baby health and safety can log on to www.nyc.gov/health this week to ask a doctor about safe sleep and other baby safety issues.

Anyone interested in donating to the Cribs for Kids program can do so on the Fund for Public Health of New York website at www.fphny.org.

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