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Stony Brook Children's Launches Program To Help Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
First Hospital on Long Island to Send Newborns Home from NICU with Sack for Safe Sleeping

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the third leading cause of infant death in this country, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. At Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, the staff is dedicated to educating parents on the dangers of SIDS and encouraging preventative measures that can help to avoid the syndrome—especially during the colder months, when, according to the National Institutes of Health, infants are at a higher risk because caregivers tend to use extra blankets for warmth.

We must be proactive in our fight against this horrible problem," said Neonatologist, Dr. Joseph D. DeCristofaro, Assistant Medical Director for Patient Safety and Medical Director, Infant Apnea Program at Stony Brook Children's. "This papoose-like blanket is a simple idea to prevent overheating and to prevent the baby from getting tangeld in the bedsheets. Any small step we can make to help with SIDS prevention is worthwhile."

Stony Brook Children’s has expanded its commitment to reducing the incidence of SIDS with a new program that helps to emphasize good sleep habits at home. 

In the NICU at Stony Brook Long Island Children's Hospital, 13 week-old Ava Theologitis of Lake Grove is snug as a bug in a hospital-provided Halo SleepSack. Photo by Jeanne Neville
Each baby discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is sent home with a HALO SleepSack, a wearable blanket that replaces loose blankets in the crib that can cover the baby’s face and interfere with breathing. It helps babies to sleep more safely—and more soundly, because the warm blanket can’t be kicked off. 
  
The SleepSack giveaway program at Stony Brook Children’s was started with assistance from The Little Angel Fund, Inc., a non-profit organization established by Jenny and Joseph Tranfaglia in memory of their daughter, Amanda Rose, who was born 16 weeks prematurely and died after a 33-day struggle for life. The organization’s mission is to offer information, increase awareness, educate, and comfort families throughout the NICU experience. The SleepSack program will continue with support from the Hospital’s Gift Shop, which has agreed to donate one SleepSack to the NICU giveaway program for each one they sell in the gift shop.

 

“The biggest impact on reducing SIDS was the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign which got babies sleeping on their backs, but we still need safe sleep environments, especially for pre-term infants, who are the most vulnerable of babies,” explains Susan Katz, RN, DNP, PNP, SAFE KIDS Suffolk Coordinator and Infant Apnea Program Coordinator at Stony Brook Children’s. “The most important component of SIDS prevention is to make sure the baby is in the crib alone—no blankets, no pillows, no toys, and no bumpers, nothing to cover the baby’s head. The SleepSack keeps the baby warm and comfortable, but cannot cover his face—which reduces the risk of SIDS.” 
  
According to the National Institutes of Health, SIDS is “the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under one year of age, which cannot be explained after a complete autopsy, an investigation of the scene and circumstances of the death, and a review of the medical history of the infant and his or her family. Most SIDS deaths happen when babies are between two and four months of age. The causes of SIDS are still unknown, but it is possible to reduce factors that increase SIDS risk.”

Established in June 2010, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital is Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital. More than 7,000 children and adolescents are admitted each year. Stony Brook Children’s operates 100 pediatric beds with a faculty of more than 100 pediatric providers in 30 different specialties and more than 200 voluntary pediatric faculty members. The hospital includes a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center, as well as the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. Also included are the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program, the Pediatric Cardiology Program, Pediatric HIV and AIDS Center, Cystic Fibrosis Center and the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities.