Maternal & Child Health

Infant Safety Program Helps Prevent SIDS,

Keeps Babies Safe


The Maternal Child Health Department at Alameda Health System is continuing its effort to decrease the high rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in our community, by educating new and expectant families on measures they can proactively take.

A major birth center for Alameda County, Highland Hospital delivers more than 1,200 babies each year. Thus, the Infant Safety Program is truly having a significant positive impact on the health of Alameda County’s youngest generation.While the rate has declined over the past two decades, instances of SIDS remain distressingly high. Further, in Alameda County, the SIDS rate is 39.3 deaths per 100,000 babies, well above the statewide average of 35.3.

Simple Measures Can Protect Babies and Give Parents Peace of Mind

In an effort to reduce the tragic impact of SIDS and get infants off to a healthy start, AHS developed the Infant Safety Program. Before being discharged from Highland, which recently received recognition as a Baby-Friendly Hospital— a coveted designation bestowed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, parents are given helpful materials on how to care for newborns and keep them safe. As part of this effort, caregivers in Highland Hospital’s Maternal Child Health Department have embraced the proven SIDS prevention measures of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends that babies:

  • Always be placed on their backs to sleep
  • Be placed in AAP-approved “sleep sacks,” as opposed to swaddling them in blankets or placing blankets over them, as both of these can cause suffocation and strangulation

Highland Works to Spread Word   

To reinforce the AAP’s message, Highland’s Infant Safety Program strives to give parents free sleep sacks for their newborns upon discharge. The sleep sacks have the embroidered message “Back is Best” on them, which reminds parents to place their baby on its back to sleep. To accommodate the needs of AHS’s diverse patient population, this message is delivered in a variety of languages.

It Takes Only a Few Dollars to Help Keep an Infant Safe

While the cost of a sleep sack is relatively small (about $20 at retail stores), this can often be a prohibitive amount for families served by AHS, as the majority of our patients are low income and struggle to meet basic needs. With funds raised by the AHS Foundation, AHS is able to purchase sleep sacks in bulk, reducing the cost to about $8 each—a miniscule amount compared to the benefit of keeping our youngest residents safe and healthy.


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