Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It is being reprinted as part of a partnership between the Community Journal and Journal Sentinel to help address a critical issue in our community.
by Crocker Stephenson–Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Reprinted from January 23, 2011
While there are many factors associated with infant mortality, experts say there are some things you can immediately do to lower the risk. Here are three of them:
1. Provide your infant with a safe place to sleep–Sudden infant death syndrome was the second leading cause of death of Milwaukee infants from 2005 through 2008. The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office reported last year that three out of every four Milwaukee County babies who suffocated in their sleep or died of SIDS during 2007 and 2008 were sleeping with an adult or another child.
The Milwaukee Health Department recommends:
• Put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
• Babies should share a room with their parents but not a bed.
• Babies should sleep alone in cribs. Never put a baby to sleep on a couch or a chair.
• Make sure that the only item in the crib is a mattress, covered by a tight-fitting sheet. No bumper pads, blankets or toys.
• Never lay a baby down on or next to a pillow. Pillows can suffocate a child.
• Dress your baby in a one-piece sleeper to keep him or her warm in winter.
• Keep your house at a temperature that is comfortable for the whole family. The house should not be too warm.
• Never smoke in a house where an infant or child lives.
Need a crib? The city Health Department provides Pack ‘n Plays to Milwaukee families unable to purchase one. Call: (414) 286-8620.
Want to help? Donate at city.milwaukee.gov/cribsforkids, or send a check to: Cribs for Kids Program, c/o City of Milwaukee Health Department, Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
A gift of $100 will pay for Pack ‘n Play, sleeping attire and customized education for families to help their baby sleep safely. Any contribution is welcomed.
2. Stop Smoking–The City of Milwaukee Health Department’s 2010 Fetal Infant Mortality Review Report says: “Smoking cessation is one of the largest modifiable risk factors to reduce fetal and infant death.” Mothers who experienced an infant death or stillbirth were 2.8 times more likely to smoke, the report says.
Need help? Go to www.wwhf.org/pg—firstbreath.asp, or the Wisconsin Quit Line at (800) QUIT-NOW – (800) 784-8669.
3. Get Tested-Sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections are serious risk factors for preterm births.
Often there are no symptoms in women with sexually transmitted diseases. A woman may not be aware she is infected until she is already pregnant.
Need help? Milwaukee Health Department offers free screening, treatment, counseling and referrals for sexually transmitted diseases at the Keenan Central Health Clinic, 3200 N. 36th St. For more information, go to city.milwaukee.gov/StdHIV-Aids444.htm, or call (414) 286-3631.