Priority 4: Safe Sleep

Suffocation is the leading cause of injury death for infants. From 2006-2009, there were 228 infant unintentional suffocation deaths in Ohio1. According to 2009 Ohio Child Fatality Review data, 93% (50) of the 54 asphyxia deaths to infants less than 1 year were sleep-related. 14% of the reviews for infant deaths from all causes were sleep-related, more than from any other single cause of death except prematurity.2

Promoting a safe sleep environment for infants is an important step in preventing infant suffocation. Current best practice recommends placing infants to sleep on their back in a bare crib. In 2009, 58% (88) of infant deaths occurred in adults beds, on couches or chairs, while only 28% (43) occurred in cribs or bassinets.7 More than half (51%, 78 deaths) of the infants were sharing a sleep surface with an adult, another child or both at the time of death.

Infants are at greatest risk of sleep-related suffocation during their first 6 months; 87% (133) of the infant sleep-related deaths in 2009 occurred during this early age. Therefore, it is critical that parents of newborns be provided with current best practice information on a safe sleep environment.

Reduce Ohio's Infant Mortality Rate