NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4,000 infants in the United States die suddenly of no immediate or obvious cause. Nearly half of these unexpected deaths are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the leading cause of all deaths among infants ages 1 to 12 months.
The numbers are even higher for the African-American community according to the Office of Minority Health, with the SIDS mortality rate nearly twice that of non-Hispanic whites. Organizers at Tennessee State University hope that with proper training and education, the numbers will be reversed.
The University, along with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, will offer a one-day Safe Infant Sleep Training course to educate parents and other caregivers about practices that can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
The Safe Infant Sleep Training will take place Saturday, March 22 at the Avon Williams campus and will, according to Dr. Stephanie Bailey, dean of the College of Health Sciences, target primarily black males, who take on a larger role as caregivers. It is also the first time the campaign has been offered in Tennessee.
“The training is open to everyone,” said Bailey. “But we are really focusing on the role black males are now playing in the care of children. This includes fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and others who are taking an active role in raising a child. The goal is to educate this group of caregivers on reducing the risk of SIDS and ensuring a safe sleep environment.”
She added that information on the care of children has changed over the years.
“We are now teaching that a safe sleep environment has no bumpers, pillows, blankets or toys,” Bailey said. “This is different from what we were taught years ago. By placing infants on their backs, SIDS rates have declined overall by 50 percent across all racial and ethnic groups, while the rate of back sleeping among infants has increased by 40 percent, which is a good thing. This training is the perfect opportunity to get those messages out to caregivers.”
The Safe to Sleep campaign was launched in September 2012 and expands on the Back to Sleep campaign that was launched in 1994. The new campaign expands upon the success of the previous campaign by incorporating the most up-to-date recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on safe-infant-sleep practices.
According to Dr. Stacy Scott, community liaison for NICHD, the training will educate parents and caregivers on ways to help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death, while continuing to spread the messages of Safe Infant Sleep to all communities, while tailoring outreach to those communities most affected by SIDS.
“We have been providing training for women for a very long time,” said Scott. “But now we see a need to tailor that training for African American males because of the increased role they are playing in childrearing. This ‘Fatherhood’ initiative recognizes the importance of their role, and will be the first of a series of training and outreach targeting fathers specifically for SIDS training.”
Mark McBee, one of the presenters at the upcoming training, agreed with Scott, saying that for too long the father and male caregiver have been overlooked when it comes to SIDS training. The training, he said, needs to take in the specific needs of males, especially black males, who have traditionally been left out of the equation.
“There are a lot more men in charge of taking care of children in the home today,” said McBee, a 30-year veteran firefighter and paramedic with the city of Toledo, Ohio. “More men, especially black males, are the primary caregivers of small infants and becoming more involved in their children’s lives. They need to be able to recognize the risks associated with SIDS and how to prevent them.”
The Safe Infant Sleep Training will be held in two sessions. The first takes place from 10 a.m. until noon and is geared for University students who can earn service-learning credit by attending and sharing the messages in the community.
The second session, which is open to the community, will take place from 1 until 3 p.m.
“Unfortunately, the SIDS rate in the Black community is higher as well as the overall infant mortality rate,” added Bailey. “It’s our goal to present this information to some of our alumni fraternities along with community and church members, all in the hopes of spreading the information to others in the community.”
Registration is required to attend since space is limited. To register for this free training, visit http://bit.ly/TSUstudent or call 615.9637328.
Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.