Infant Deaths in Central New York Can Be Prevented

As the Onondaga County Health Department continues its efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, it is important to remember other issues that are affecting our health. October is SIDS Awareness Month, and while Onondaga County has seen an overall decrease in the rate of infant deaths since the 1990s, this decrease has slowed over time.

Local Impact
Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta released local data today regarding infant deaths that have resulted from unsafe sleeping situations. Gupta explained, “Tragically, sleep-related infant deaths are still a reality in our community, as evidenced by the data compiled by the Onondaga County Health Department. Over the last five years (2015-2019) we have had, on average, 6 unsafe sleep deaths per year. The African American community is disproportionately impacted, where babies are twice as likely to die of unsafe sleep as non-Hispanic white babies.”

“Since 2015, we have lost 29 babies in Onondaga County due to an unsafe sleep environment”, stated Christine Larkin, Coordinator of the Onondaga County Child Fatality Review Team. “The majority of infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping situations are babies who were sleeping in an adult bed or sleeping with an adult or child. In other situations, the babies were in their own crib, but soft bedding, blankets, or pillows caused suffocation. Car seats, strollers, and couches also put babies at risk.”

Safe Sleep for Baby 

  • The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib near where a parent sleeps (whether babies are breastfed or bottle-fed)—room sharing, not bed sharing.
  • Use a safety-approved crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered only by a sheet. There should be nothing else in the crib. 
  • Do not put blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, or bumper pads in the crib.
  • Babies should never sleep on a waterbed.
  • Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep.
  • Babies should be put on their stomachs to play while supervised.

Learn More 

For more information about safe sleep for babies, call Healthy Families at 315.435.2000.