Local Organization and Parents Work to Lower Infant Mortality Rate

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When the Sanders' son Byce was born 8 years ago, they wrapped him in blankets, and put bumpers and stuffed animals in his crib. 6 weeks ago, when their son Aden was born, they learned a very different set of rules for putting him to bed.

"Times have changed, and it's just hard for parents to keep up with all the new rules, so you have to be very vigilant," said Tyrone Sanders.

And that's where organizations like Tomorrow's Child come in. Advocates work to teach parents and health professionals how to keep their babies safe. According to the latest Kids Count report, Michigan ranks 37th among the 50 states in infant mortality. That's 13th worst in the nation- a rate that advocates say is just too high.

"There's cultural reasons, racial disparities... big problems that are not very easy to solve. The one piece of infant mortality we can really make a dent in is in the arena of safe sleep," said Sarah Scranton with Tomorrow's Child .

An estimated 150 babies die because of compromised sleep environment each year in Michigan alone. The new recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics aim to lower that number with just a few simple rules. Babies should always sleep alone in their crib, never in bed with a parent. Nothing should be in the crib with the baby, not even blankets and toys. Infants should sleep on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.
And babies should sleep on their backs.

Rather than bundling Ayden in a blanket the Sanders put him in a sleep sack to keep him warm. His crib may look a bit bare, but the Sanders say he's sleeping just fine. They say they share the tips they've learned with other parents, to make sure their babies are sleeping safely too.

"One of my friends was actually just explaining to me you know hey, my daughter sleeps very well on her stomach, and I said actually that's not good you're really supposed to lay a child on its back," said Tanisha Sanders, Ayden's Mother.

State Representative Gail Haines introduced the "safe sleep act" last month. The bill would require hospitals to provide parents with information on safe sleep procedures. The legislation would also require parents to watch an informational video and sign a waiver saying they understand the safe sleep recommendations.