Campaign's Resource Kit Seeks to Reduce Incidence of SIDS in African American Communities

Thursday, October 12, 2000

Commemorating SIDS Awareness Month, HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher today unveiled a resource kit for reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in African American communities. Dr. Satcher challenged leaders of African American organizations to join a national campaign to reduce SIDS and infant mortality in African American communities where infants are twice as likely to die from SIDS as are white infants.

"New partnerships are the tools we need to continue the dramatic success we have witnessed with the national Back to Sleep campaign since 1994," Secretary Shalala said. "New materials will help us carry this effective campaign to even more individuals caring for infants."

"We have the know-how, we have the will, we have the ability to reduce SIDS," Dr. Satcher told the annual meeting of the National Black Child Development Institute this afternoon. "We now need other organizations to make the type of commitment that the National Black Child Development Institute has made to eliminate the racial disparity in SIDS deaths."

The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) has joined with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and several other organizations in a campaign to reduce SIDS among African American babies by urging parents and care givers to place infants on their backs to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends back-sleeping as the safest sleep position for infants under one year of age to reduce the incidence of SIDS.

To help organizations initiate SIDS risk reduction programs, NICHD, HRSA, NBCDI and other partner organizations developed a Resource Kit for Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in African American Communities. The kit contains culturally appropriate materials such as fact sheets, brochures, magnets and a leader's guide to encourage people to lead discussion groups in various community settings on ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.

The NBCDI will play a major role in promoting SIDS risk reduction activities throughout the United States. This unique non-profit organization is devoted to improving the well-being of children. Over the past 30 years, NBCDI has developed outstanding relationships with community organizations and has an extensive regional affiliate structure that involves thousands of community-based leaders. Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Acting Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health, forged the partnership with NBCDI that resulted in the resource kit. "We have been very successful in reducing SIDS in the total population," Dr. Maddox said. "We now need to work with community-based organizations to reduce SIDS among African American infants and eliminate this disturbing disparity."

Since the back-sleeping recommendation was made, the rate of SIDS has dropped dramatically, from more than 5,000 to under 3,000 infant deaths per year. Despite the overall success of the campaign, the SIDS rate in African American infants is still two times higher than in white infants. Several studies have shown that African American infants are placed on their stomachs to sleep more often than other infants. Stomach sleeping is a major risk factor for SIDS.

The national Back to Sleep public education campaign was launched in 1994 to promote placing babies on their backs to sleep. It is led by the NICHD in collaboration with the campaign co-sponsors: the AAP, HRSA's Maternal and Child Heath Bureau (MCHB), the SIDS Alliance and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs.

"The campaign to reduce SIDS deaths is a success because of the many partnerships involved in getting the simple message out that babies should sleep on their backs," said HRSA Administrator Dr. Claude Earl Fox. "But we must do more to reach African American parents and caregivers to reduce the rate of SIDS among African American infants who are twice as likely to die from SIDS as white infants."

NICHD, MCHB and the SIDS Alliance are also working with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Women in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women to bring SIDS reduction and education programs to African American communities nationwide.

Several organizations are already working to reduce SIDS in their communities. For October, National SIDS Awareness Month, the D.C. Department of Health, in conjunction with NICHD, NBCDI, MCHB and the SIDS Alliance have placed a public service display ad on Washington D.C. Metrobuses with the SIDS risk reduction message: Babies Sleep Safest on Their Backs.

To receive the new Resource Kit for Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in African American Communities and help the partner organizations reduce the risk of SIDS, please call the Back to Sleep toll-free number at 1-800-505-CRIB. The kits will be available by the end of October. Also, the Resource Kit will soon be available on the NICHD Web site: http://www.nichd.nih.gov.

###