Unsafe Sleep Practices Causing Infant Deaths in Washoe County

by | Oct 6, 2022

Reno, Nev. Oct. 6, 2022. The Washoe County Human Services Agency (HSA) declares October as Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month. HSA, the Washoe County Health District, and the Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office are collaborating throughout October in various ways to remind the community about the importance of using safe sleep practices when putting an infant to sleep.

Unsafe sleep practices are the leading causes of death among otherwise healthy infants under the age of one in Washoe County. There have been 26 infant deaths in Washoe County from FY 2018 to 2022, all due to unsafe sleep situations.

Health officials ask that anyone caring for an infant practices the ABC’s of safe sleep. When putting an infant down, always have the infant Alone, on its Back, and in a Crib. Most infant safe sleep deaths can be prevented if those caring for an infant practice these easy-to-do, preventable measures:

  • Infants should be placed on a firm mattress.
  • Have a tightly fitted sheet.
  • No other items, such as toys, pillows or blankets in the sleep area.

Babies under the age of one can easily suffocate as a result of sleeping in an adult bed or on other dangerous sleep surfaces, such as couches, armchairs or pillows because their neck muscles haven’t fully developed.

“As death investigators, we know that losing a child is devastating,” said Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner Dr. Laura Knight. “When that death was preventable, it is even more heartbreaking. Parents and caregivers have the power to prevent unsafe sleep-related infant deaths by ensuring their baby always has a safe place to sleep, which is alone in a crib or pack-and-play, without other items, and always on their back.  Sleep sacks are a wonderful alternative to blankets, and babies don’t need stuffed animals, crib bumper pads or anything else in the crib to sleep.”

The infant safe sleep awareness community outreach campaign will reach the community in several strategic ways throughout the year:

  • Billboard campaign, courtesy of Lamar Advertising.
  • Videos at Galaxy Theatres in Sparks.
  • TV and radio public service announcements.
  • Trainings for first responders and local professionals to educate the community.

Join HSA in raising awareness about the importance of infant safe sleep by following us on Twitter and Facebook.


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