SIDS education bill becomes law
Five years in the making, the new law will save babies' lives
House Bill 47 requires hospitals and nurse midwives to educate new parents on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Sudden Unexpected Death of Infants, focusing on safe sleeping practices for babies. State Rep. Lawrence Curry’s bill to prevent infant deaths has been signed into law by Governor Rendell.
"The sudden death of an infant is one of the most tragic events that a new family could experience," said Curry, D-Montgomery/Phila. "We can help young families avoid this horrible tragedy simply by teaching them safe sleeping practices, which this new law mandates."
Curry, who has been working for a SIDS/SUDI education program for five years, thanked St. Christopher’s Hospital of Philadelphia pediatrician Dr. Eileen Tyrala for bringing this issue to his attention, and for her help in seeing the bill become law.
"The signing of H.B. 47 represents a huge victory for Pennsylvania families who will now have the knowledge they need to put their infants to sleep in the safest possible environment. As a result, more Pennsylvania families will be able to experience the joy of celebrating their baby’s first birthday," said Tyrala, who is the medical director for the Cribs for Kids program. "I want to thank Curry for his tireless work and continued efforts to stress the safe sleep message, and his colleagues for their support of this bill."
Risk factors for SIDS and SUDI include exposure to smoke, overheating and an inappropriate sleeping environment for infants.
According to the Academy of Pediatrics, a safe sleeping environment for infants includes:
- Placing the infant on his or her back on a firm mattress;
- Removing bulky blankets and comforters from the crib; and
- Never letting the infant share a bed with parents or siblings.
SIDS is the third-most common cause of death for babies under one year old, and accounts for approximately 3,000 infant deaths in the United States each year.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in 2008 (the most recent available period) 85 infants in Pennsylvania died as the result of SIDS or accidental suffocation and strangulation. Of the deaths reviewed by Child Death Review Teams, 7 percent were sleep related:
- 77 percent of these deaths occurred in infants;
- 25 percent of the sleep-related deaths were categorized as SIDS;
- 100 percent of the SIDS deaths were infants younger than 6 months; and
- 51 percent of the sleep-related deaths involved sleeping with others.