Healthy People 2020 At Work in the Community: Community Baby Showers for Safe Sleep
Infant mortality in Kansas, particularly among African American infants, is a major problem, with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) being one of the leading causes of death.
SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. implemented a project called Community Baby Showers for Safe Sleep to help reduce infant mortality in the Wichita, Kansas area.
Infant mortality is a complex issue, and SIDS contributes significantly to infant mortality. An "unsafe sleep environment is certainly a high risk and very prevalent among the SIDS deaths," stated Christy Schunn, Executive Director of the SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc.
The overall goal of the Community Baby Showers for Safe Sleep project was to "reduce infant mortality or improve birth outcomes in Kansas in the African American community," explained Ms. Schunn.
The SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. reached out to pregnant mothers and their support people. As Ms. Schunn explained, "We wanted the support people to be anyone who takes care of the baby." Furthermore, SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. "specifically targeted this Community Baby Showers for Safe Sleep toward the highest SIDS rate in our county and state, which is the African American and Hispanic communities," in Wichita, Kansas. Thus far, 300 people have been impacted by the project.
The ABCs of Safe Sleep
One strategy the SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. used was to make safe sleep behaviors simple for participants in the Community Baby Showers for Safe Sleep. Ms. Schunn explained the ABCs as "Alone, on the Back, in a Crib." Unsafe sleep environments include a baby who is sleeping in a smoking environment, or a baby who is sleeping anywhere other than a safety-approved crib," continued Ms. Schunn.
Pregnant mothers and their support people were invited to participate in baby showers. At these events, they learned the differences between a safe sleep environment and an unsafe sleep environment. Additionally, participants also left with a pamphlet on safety-approved cribs and had "the tools to create a safe sleep environment," described Ms. Schunn.
One of the ways that Ms. Schunn and her colleagues at the SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. successfully engaged a difficult- to-reach community was through partnerships.
The SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. partnered with existing organizations or networks that were already working with the target population. A few of the partners included the Black Nurses Association; the Hispanic Nurses Association; a local sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha; and the faith-based community.
"An African American baby is more likely to die in Kansas than in any other place in the United States."—Christy Schunn, Executive Director, SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc.
Working with these various partners was "key to attendance and to then building that trust [with participants at the baby showers]," continued Ms. Schunn.
Ms. Schunn and her colleagues realized they needed to change the frequency of the baby showers. Initially, they were having them once a quarter. However, they came to realize that if the baby showers were held twice a year, they "still had access to before their babies were delivered but not so frequently that nobody showed up," described Ms. Schunn.
The infant mortality rate in Kansas has declined in the year and a half that the SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. has conducted baby showers. "SIDS was the second leading cause of death, and now it is securely third," said Ms. Schunn. Work continues for Ms. Schunn and the rest of the SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. as they continue to prevent SIDS-related infant deaths.
Including Voter Registration Efforts
"The voter registration folks said there were more people that signed up at this baby shower than at other events that they do. So empowering people to be knowledgeable about their health care and letting them know they have a voice, that was a very positive outcome."—Christy Schunn, Executive Director, SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc.
Community Baby Showers for Safe Sleep
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) challenged America’s health organizations to come up with new and innovative projects that could tackle some of today’s most pressing public health issues.
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