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Safe sleep campaigns launched

Tom Jackson • Apr 16, 2014 at 6:20 PM

The message still isn’t getting through in many cases, so health officials are trying again to convince parents they should never sleep next to their babies.

The Erie County Health Department and the state health department have both launched safe sleep campaigns that aim to make co-sleeping deaths rare in Ohio.

Erie County’s latest campaign, which includes a training session Thursday, was well underway when officials learned about Sunday’s death of Kyair Babisak, an almost-6-month-old who died sleeping next to his mother.

The incident is being investigated as a possible co-sleeping death, in which the infant was possibly smothered after the parent rolled over on him. An autopsy has been ordered, but results are not yet available, Erie County coroner Dr. Brian Baxter said Tuesday.

The state health department said three Ohio babies die in unsafe sleep environments each week, with 819 such deaths reported from 2007 to 2011.

State health officials are trying to get their message across by reciting the ABC’s of safe sleep: Babies should always sleep ALONE, on their BACKS, in a CRIB.

The health department said it is advertising that message using billboards, cable TV ads, transit signs, Internet posts and radio. In addition, a new website has been launched, safesleep.ohio.gov.

Sharon Schaeffer, Erie County’s director of community health, said a training session is 9-10:30 a.m. Thursday for local people who work with new mothers. Anyone else who wants to attend should contact the health department today.

The health department’s mobile health van will be at Kroger, 508 W. Perkins Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, to pass out safe sleep information. The van will be available during those same hours on April 23 and April 28 at Erie County Job and Family Services and April 30 at the health department.

All of these efforts, funded by a $2,600 grant, had been scheduled when health officials noticed the article in Tuesday’s paper about Kyair, Schaeffer said.

She said the health department expects to obtain another $6,000 in grants on July 1 to help the department continue its safe sleep message.

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