The Infant Mortality Prevention Action Team of Howard County (IMPACT HOCO) is promoting safe sleep awareness to protect infants in Howard County.

The task force is working with the Indiana Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Child Services and local agencies to educate community members and reduce infant mortality, according to a recent news release from Barb Hilton, director of Family Service Association’s Prevent Child Abuse.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant before the baby is 1 year old.

The IMPACT HOCO Task Force was initiated in March 2021 to address the significant number of deaths in Howard County — many due to unsafe sleep practices.

While infant mortality numbers have decreased in the past years, the number of sleep-related suffocations has increased. Most of these infant deaths are preventable, according to officials in the news release. In the past five reporting years, from 2015-2019, Howard County had 36 infant deaths — 25% of which were sudden, unexpected infant deaths, including sleep-related suffocations, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

The IMPACT Task Force is sponsoring events throughout the month — which is National Safe Sleep Awareness Month — to educate parents, grandparents, caregivers and service providers and reduce the risk of infant death by suffocation.

• Baby Boot Camp: Virtual trainings (Breastfeeding, Early Prenatal Care, Safe Sleep, and Tobacco and Drug Free) to earn incentives, which can be redeemed at an open house at the Indiana Health Centers today.

• Billboards and radio: Billboards will feature the ABC message “Babies sleep safest alone, on their back, in a safe crib,” and a radio campaign is planned.

• October babies born at both Howard County hospitals will receive a onesie with a safe sleep message and an educational booklet on safe sleep.

• Safe sleep trainings for service providers, parents and caregivers may be scheduled at no charge.

For more information on events, to participate on the Task Force or to schedule a training, contact Barb Hilton at Family Service Association: barbhilton@fsahc.org.

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