New and expectant mothers face never-ending worries when it comes to caring for their little bundles of joy, but the Champaign Health District is hoping to ease one of those concerns – sleep-related deaths – through its Cribs for Kids Program.
“It is scary to talk about (sleep-related infant deaths), especially when you have a brand new baby, because you sit there the first few nights staring and worrying if they are actually breathing,” said Stacey Thomas, director of nursing for the health district. “We’ve all been there.”
Unfortunately, the fear many mothers have over not being able to wake their baby up after he or she has been sleeping is justified by statistics.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 3,500 infants die per year in the United States as a result of sleep-related deaths, which are generally classified under three primary categories: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ill-defined deaths, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
Thomas said while recent data on sleep-related infant deaths in the county has yet to be released, she confirmed none were reported in 2016 or as of yet in 2017. Statewide, however, she said there are approximately three deaths per week according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).
The Cribs for Kids Program, which the Champaign Health District began offering earlier this month, is a collaborative effort between the county, ODH, and the the Cribs for Kids® National Infant Safe Sleep Initiative aimed at preventing sleep-related infant deaths.
The Champaign Health District’s Cribs for Kids Program is held from noon to 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the Champaign County Community Center, 1512 S. U.S. Route 68.
To be eligible for the free class, participants – mothers in their third trimester or with an infant less than 6 months old – must meet the income guidelines for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
To qualify for WIC, the gross income of the economic unit (household) must be at or below the following yearly amounts: $21,978 (one-person household), $29,637 (two people), $37,296 (three people) and $44,955 (four people). For each additional member, the yearly income threshold jumps $7,659.
New or expectant mothers who register for the Cribs for Kids Program by calling 937-484-1671, will be asked to attend a one-hour class taught by Thomas and Ashley Carr, a health professional in the county’s WIC Division. Following the class, participants will not only receive a bag of educational materials and health district information, but each mom will leave with a brand new Graco Pack ‘n Play portable crib.
Thomas said while there are obvious costs involved with a program of this nature, the health district doesn’t pay a dime for its Cribs for Kids Program thanks to funding from the ODH Federal Government Bureau of Child and Family Health Service Program, which pays the national Cribs for Kids organization for the educational materials and portable cribs.
While the Champaign Health District joined the program after the 2017 grants were issued by ODH, Thomas said the Clark County Health District graciously agreed to share its extra program materials with Champaign County this year.
The plan going forward, she added, is for the Champaign Health District to apply for its own Cribs for Kids Program funding in the future.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.