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Press Release

Department of Health and Human Services Releases Data for SIDS/Safe Sleep Awareness Month in October
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Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
Publish Date:
October 26, 2015

Concord, NH – The NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is helping to raise awareness for October, National SIDS/Safe Sleep Awareness Month. Each year in the United States, up to 3,400 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly. Most of these deaths are from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and other sleep-related causes. SIDS is one of the leading causes of death for infants one month to one year of age nationally and in New Hampshire. Every year in New Hampshire 8 to 14 babies die in an unsafe sleep setting.

"While healthcare providers and researchers do not know the exact cause of SIDS, there are preventive methods that we do know encourage safe sleep," says Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of Public Health at DHHS. "The Department wants to highlight these methods to encourage the practice of safe sleeping habits for infants and to help reduce the risk of SIDS."

The DHHS Sudden Infant Death Program provides training and resources to those who work with expectant or new parents about how to reduce the risk of SIDS and death from unsafe sleep settings. The Program works with the NH Chief Medical Examiner's Office to provide information and grief support resources to assist families who have suffered the loss of an infant suddenly and unexpectedly. Tobacco exposure during pregnancy and after increases an infant's risk of deaths from SIDS. The DHHS NH Tobacco Helpline prioritizes pregnant and post-partum women with their services to help women quit and stay quit.

Strategies to reduce the risk of SIDS and promote safe sleep include:

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep for every sleep.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Have baby share the room, not your bed. Baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone or with anyone else.
  • Keep soft objects such as pillows, bumper pads, soft toys and loose bedding out of baby's sleep area.
  • Don't let baby get too hot during sleep.
  • Prevent any exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and after birth. Do not smoke during pregnancy, do not allow smoking near you while you are pregnant, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby—especially in the home or in a vehicle.

The risk of SIDS is even stronger when a baby shares a bed with a person who smokes. For help quitting tobacco, call the NH Tobacco Helpline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or

To reduce risk of SIDS, breastfeed baby, then put baby to sleep in a close but separate safety-approved crib.
For more information, see the national Safe to Sleep Campaign website: NH DHHS currently offers free help quitting tobacco use through 1-800-QUIT-NOW (

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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