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'Back to Sleep' Kit Aimed at African Americans

Surgeon General David Satcher recently joined Dr. Yvonne Maddox, acting deputy NIH director, Dr. Duane Alexander, NICHD director, and others in unveiling a resource kit for reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in African American communities. The new kit is an extension of the national Back to Sleep campaign, which promotes placing babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Satcher presented the kit at the annual meeting of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), in Washington, D.C.; NICHD developed the kit in collaboration with a coalition of African American organizations, headed by NBCDI, as a tool to help lower SIDS in African American communities, where infants are twice as likely to die from SIDS as are white infants.

"We have the know-how, we have the will, we have the ability to reduce SIDS in African American communities," said Satcher. "We now need other organizations to make the type of commitment that the NBCDI has made to eliminate the racial disparity in SIDS deaths."

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending back and side sleeping in 1992 and the Back to Sleep campaign began in 1994, the overall SIDS rate has decreased by nearly 40 percent. Despite the campaign's overall success in getting caregivers to place babies on their backs to sleep, African American babies are still placed on their stomachs to sleep more often than other babies. Stomach sleeping is a major risk factor for SIDS.

Dr. Duane Alexander (l), NICHD director, discusses the release of the resource kit for reducing the risk of SIDS in African American communities with (from l) Evelyn Moore, president of the National Black Child Development Institute; Dr. Yvonne Maddox, acting NIH deputy director; and Dr. David Satcher, U.S. surgeon general.

Last year, Evelyn Moore, founder and president of NBCDI, joined NICHD and its Back to Sleep campaign sponsors to plan a national SIDS-reduction outreach campaign for African American communities. Through its relationships with national leaders and community-based organizations, NBCDI will play a vital role in outreach activities in communities throughout the country.

Maddox helped build the partnership between NICHD and NBCDI. "We have been very successful in reducing SIDS in the total population," she said. "We now need to work with community-based organizations to reduce SIDS among African American infants to eliminate this disturbing disparity."

The kit contains materials for local community groups to use when conducting informational sessions about SIDS risk reduction, including brochures, magnets, a video, and 15-, 30-, and 60-minute training modules for group leaders. Included are myths and facts about SIDS, Q/A about SIDS, a sample promotional flyer, media release, and radio public service announcement, as well as tips on working with the media.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women are also involved in this initiative. Representatives from these groups helped tailor outreach activities to ensure the new materials reached the most appropriate audiences.

Locally, the D.C. department of health is also working to spread the Back to Sleep message. To commemorate October as National SIDS Awareness Month, the department joined NICHD, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA, NBCDI, and the SIDS Alliance in sponsoring a bus advertisement that displays the message: Babies Sleep Safest on Their Backs. The ad appeared on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority buses through early November.

To receive a resource kit or to learn more about the Back to Sleep campaign and its other materials, call 1-800-505-CRIB. Materials from the kit will soon be available on the NICHD web site at www.nichd.

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