In the past four years, 22 infants in Dane County have died from sudden unexpected infant death, a category that includes sudden infant death syndrome.

Now, Dane County has taken further initiatives in a safe sleep campaign to try to prevent these tragedies.

According to Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, Dane County is working with the city in this campaign to ensure the issue of infant mortality is addressed and prevented.

Public Health Supervisor Daniel Stattelman-Scanlan said part of the safe sleep campaign began in 2011, when Dane County officials began to investigate the causes behind the sudden deaths. The investigations continued in 2012 when the county saw disturbingly high numbers of sudden infant deaths.

County medical examiners started by focusing on the environment of the home in which infants had died and noticed that often, infants had been sharing a bed with their caregiver, being put to bed on the couch or sitting in a car seat with too many blankets and pillows, causing them to suffocate.

About 40 community members are involved in the awareness campaign so far, Stattelman-Scanlan said. These members have volunteered to speak to parents about the importance of safe sleep for their child, which is the main component of the safe sleep campaign.

“Parents talked about concerns they have with wanting to bond and be close with their child,” Stattelman-Scanlan said. “So we try to integrate that into the campaign message. A number of parents do share the same bed with their child. But when we looked at evidence from the 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics, they recommend to share the room but do not share the bed.”

Stattelman-Scanlan said the campaign applies to every parent or caregiver, no matter who they are. He said the goal is to have all parents, day care employees, grandparents and health care providers agree on the safety measures needed to keep infants safe when they sleep.

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