Erlanger specialists stress the importance of infant safe sleep to prevent sudden infant death syndrome

Chattanooga, Tenn. – As outside temperatures begin to fall and families bring out the blankets to stay warm at night, medical specialists and educational coordinators at Erlanger would like to take a moment to remind parents about the importance of safe sleep for infants.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 543 babies died in 2013 before reaching their first birthdays. Sleep-related causes were related to 117 of those deaths. From 2009 until 2013, 29 babies died in Hamilton County due to sleep-related deaths. The main contributors to sleep-related deaths in Tennessee are: baby not sleeping in a crib or bassinette (77% of deaths), infant sleeping with other people (55% of deaths), and infant not sleeping on back (51%).

Erlanger’s Safe Sleep Gold Certification team at Children’s Hospital and Mother/Baby units at Erlanger East and Baroness Hospitals stress the importance of providing safe sleep environments for infants.

“The recommendations for a safe sleep environment are Alone: not with other people, pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals; on baby’s Back: not on the stomach or side; and in a Crib: not in an adult bed, sofa, cushion, or other soft surface,” said Children’s Hospital at Erlanger pediatrician Dr. Andrea Goins. “The medical risks of a poor sleep environment include accidental suffocation, asphyxia, along with other unknown or undetermined causes of death or disability.”

Erlanger East and Baroness Hospitals are the only hospitals in the state to receive the highest designation from the Cribs for Kids® organization for their continuing effort to promote safe sleep. The Gold Safe Sleep Champion certificate was awarded to the staff for their commitment to reduce infant sleep-related deaths in the region.

“Erlanger’s hard work has not gone unnoticed,” said Judith Bannon, Executive Director and Founder for Cribs for Kids®. “The staff has demonstrated a commitment to the community leadership for best practices and education on infant safe sleep though hospital policy, staff training, parent education, modeling wearable blankets, and participation in ongoing audits. We know babies in their care will be given every opportunity to celebrate their first birthdays.”

For more information on the ABCs of infant safe sleep, please visit

For more information on Cribs for Kids® and the certification process, visit