Skip to content

Safe Sleep Saves Lives Dinner Sheds Light on Infant Mortality, Promotes Safe Sleep Practices

VALDOSTA – To highlight the importance of addressing the issue of infant mortality and infant sleep related deaths, the Lowndes County Child Fatality Review Committee and South Health District’s Baby LUV/PAT Healthy State Program hosted the 2024 Safe Sleep Saves Lives Dinner. The event took place on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at Berta’s Pizza Kitchen.

The dinner was organized with the primary goal of raising awareness about the alarming rise in infant sleep-related deaths and emphasizing the preventable nature of some of these tragedies. It also highlighted the importance of following the ABCs of Safe Sleep.

“In the past four years, Lowndes County has had 16 sleep related deaths with 13 of those being in the last 2 years,” explained Inv. David Ferrell of the District Attorney’s Office and Chairman of the Lowndes County Child Fatality Committee. He then went on to explain that, of the 16 deaths that occurred, none were not following the ABCs of Safe Sleep and 11 involved co-sleeping.

The ABCs of Safe Sleep explains that baby’s should sleep alone, on their back in a crib:

  • Alone: Babies should always sleep alone in their own sleep space, such as a crib or bassinet. Avoid co-sleeping with the baby in the same bed or on a sofa or armchair.
  • Back: Always place your baby on their back to sleep. This sleep position has been proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Crib: Use a firm and flat mattress in a safety-approved crib or bassinet. Remove soft bedding, toys, and loose items from the sleep area to prevent suffocation hazards.

Stakeholders in attendance included members of the Child Fatality Committee, community organizations, hospital staff that work directly with labor and delivery, pediatricians, OB/GYNs, public health professionals, and the broader medical community.

According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health Online Analytical Statistical Information System (OASIS), the infant mortality rates in the region have seen an increase in recent years. The most recent data from 2022 on infant mortality rates showed the following:

  • Georgia – 7.2
  • Lowndes County – 9.3
  • African Americans in Lowndes County – 16.2
  • Caucasians in Lowndes County – *
    *Rates based on 1-4 events are not shown, indicating an infant mortality rate of less than 4

Tiffany Crowell, Baby LUV/PAT Program Manager, emphasized the progress made since 2003 but underscored the ongoing challenges, stating, “Infant Mortality Rates have decreased in Lowndes County, but there are still infants dying in our community due to unsafe sleep practices. It’s important to work collaboratively together to implement ongoing awareness, education, best practices, and programs to promote safe sleep practices.”

To address this critical issue, various programs have been implemented throughout the state, including:

Baby LUV/PAT Healthy Start Program: An evidence-based home visiting program providing education, case management, and resources to prenatal and postpartum women, emphasizing safe sleep practices, early access to prenatal care, family planning, breastfeeding, postpartum care, depression screening, and developmental screening for children.

Georgia Safe to Sleep Campaign: A comprehensive initiative providing tools and resources to prevent infant sleep-related deaths, empower professionals to educate parents, inform families about safe sleep decisions, and increase access to resources supporting behaviors that protect infants.

Safe Infant Sleep Train the Trainer Program: A training program designed to educate participants on safe sleep environments, dispel common misconceptions, and address frequently asked questions.

The Safe Sleep Saves Lives Dinner successfully brought attention to the critical need for ongoing education and collaborative efforts to ensure the well-being of infants in the community. By working together, stakeholders aim to further reduce infant mortality rates and create a safer sleep environment for all infants in the region.

The event was sponsored by the District Attorneys Office Child Fatality Review, Georgia Department of Public Health’s Baby LUV Parents as Teachers Program, Valdosta Rotary (Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner), SGMC Heath, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Valdosta Police Department,  Lowndes County Coroner’s Office and Bubba Highsmith-State Farm Insurance. Food was provided by Friend’s Grill and Bar. 

Leave a Comment