This blog was written by 2014-15 National Health Corps — North Florida member Emily Ayers for National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Emily served at the UF Health Jacksonville Healthy Start program.
After completing her 47-week, 1700-hour term, Emily accepted a position within the Healthy Start program at the Florida Department of Health — Duval County. She is also currently enrolled in the University of North Florida’s Masters in Public Health program.
As I sit at a health fair table in a sea of pink and blue, decorated with pamphlets on breastfeeding and “Having a Healthy Pregnancy”, I get a lot of negative reactions.
“I am too old for this.”
“Guys don’t have babies, I don’t need this information.”
“I’m scared that if I look at your table, I’ll get pregnant!”
Some may be shocked by the audacity of these comments, but I see them more or less as ice breakers.
“Yes, you may be past your childbearing years, but do you have children? Grandchildren?”
“You are correct men cannot physically have a baby (yet), but you might want to be a father some day or maybe you’ll be an uncle.”
“I promise there is no magical sperm on my table that will swim to your eggs causing a pregnancy. Have you ever thought about having a baby?”
The point I try to get across when talking to people is that you know someone. You know someone who just had a baby, you know someone who is pregnant, you know someone who babysits, you know someone who wants a family. The information I carry from Healthy Start has important knowledge not just for pregnant women and mothers, but for everyone that knows someone. One of the most important things I provide awareness for is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
SIDS is an unexplained phenomenon where a baby under the age of one falls asleep and never wakes up (1). In Duval County, there have been seven infant deaths this year alone, six deaths were sleep related (2). Last year, Duval County had the highest number of infant deaths in the state of Florida (3).
This is where I come in. I encourage everyone to learn the ABCs of Safe Sleep:
B – Back. Many people voice concern about babies choking on their spit up if they are on their back. But according to our anatomy, it is actually more dangerous for a baby to sleep on their stomach. If you’ll look at the picture below, our trachea (airway) is positioned in front of our esophagus (the food tube). If a baby spits up on their stomach, the food will go directly into the airway, causing suffocation.
C – Crib. This letter is a little less clear. Babies need to be in a sleeping environment by themselves, but there are many ways to achieve this. Babies can sleep in cribs, bassinets, pack and plays/play pens, keeping aware at all times that adult beds were not made with babies in mind.
SIDS is not preventable, but taking the time to learn about safe sleep environments for babies can greatly reduce the risk of SIDS. So before you pass the information that doesn’t relate to you, stop. It may not be relevant in your life now, but maybe you know someone.
- About SUID and SIDS. (2015, July 22). Retrieved September 4, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/sids/aboutsuidandsids.htm
- Thompson, E. (2015, April 6). Rise in Duval County Infant Fatalities increases need for Awareness and Transparency. WUFT News.
- Florida CHARTS Data Viewer. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015, from http://www.floridacharts.com/charts/DataViewer/InfantDeathViewer/InfantDeathViewer.aspx?indNumber=0463
- Ways To Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015.
- Fear of Aspiration | Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of North FL. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015.