March 15th, 2019

FORT SMITH – Baptist Health-Fort Smith is taking a strong step toward helping reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) with the use of Halo Sleep Sacks and safe sleep education for all parents.

As an extra layer of safety for newborns and added peace of mind for new mothers, sleep sacks have replaced traditional baby blankets at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. Sleep sacks, which are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are wearable blankets with built-in safety measures to prevent suffocation.

To further promote this patient-safety initiative, every baby born at Baptist Health-Fort Smith will go home with their very own sleep sack. The change was made effective Monday, March 4.

Even swaddled babies can wiggle out of regular blankets or pull blankets over their faces. These loose and/or bulky blankets, along with other bedding, stuffed toys and bumper pads, in the crib can smother an infant. The adjustable sleep-sack wrap immobilizes the baby’s arms to prevent blanket movement and to remove the hazard. The wrap also makes for an easy transition when it is time to stop swaddling. 

Though SIDS cases have decreased over the years, 2,500 U.S. newborns still die of SIDS each year. According to latest statistics, Arkansas ranks third in the country at 141.1 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to the average nationally 39.7. Experts speculate that promoting babies sleeping on their backs is working, but bed sharing (which has been associated with SIDS) is up. Another risk factor for SIDS is overbundling the baby or tucking the baby in with a blanket.

Baptist Health is using the new safety blanket at all of its medical centers where babies are delivered, which includes Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Stuttgart, Arkadelphia and Fort Smith.

“Families have been very receptive to safe sleep education provided by our nursing staff, and are happy to find out that they get to take a sleep sack home with them,” said Kelly Shields, director of Women and Children’s services at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. “The sleep sacks come in two sizes as well as two colors — pink for girls and blue for boys. We are excited to be able to provide this safety initiative for our newborns.”

Baptist Health estimates that it will provide around 7,000 sleep sacks this year based on the number of deliveries in all of the system’s hospitals.

Story/Photo: Baptist Health Press Releases


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