BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A parent’s worst nightmare, tucking their baby in for the night and later finding their infant has died in their sleep. Louisiana state agencies, including the Louisiana Department of Health, are joining medical partners to prevent these tragic deaths.

Every year, roughly 100 babies die in their sleep in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Child Death Review. They are making it their mission to bring that number down by forming a committee with state agencies and medical partners.

“Unsafe sleep conditions are one of the leading causes of preventable child death,” said Louisiana Child Death Review Chairperson Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh.

Louisiana ranks fourth highest in the country for Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), according to the Louisiana Child Death Review.

“Usually going to be due to things like bed-sharing, sometimes things like blankets, toys, things can get lodged in their airway. Or another potential reason is if they are put to sleep stomach,” Cavanaugh said.

Current efforts to curb these deaths include safe sleep adverting, giving cribs to those in need, and the Give Your Baby Space Campaign.

The review said regions four and seven accounts for a third of SUIDs deaths. The data also shows that deaths disproportionately affect Black children.

“We have to look at all of the social determinants of health which include education, which includes poverty, which includes access to resources, which includes racism,” Cavanaugh said.

Many hospitals are safe sleep certified according to Cavanaugh, but the newly formed committee is considering making that a uniform practice across the state which would give families in every region the same resources.

“Many of our hospitals are becoming safe sleep certified which means they have processes in place to educate parents who were leaving after delivering a child,” Cavanaugh said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatricians Safe Sleep Campaign Toolkit:

  • If the baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing or infant carrier, move them as soon as you can.
  • It’s dangerous for babies to sleep on a couch, armchair or nursing pillow.
  • Try giving your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Babies should sleep on a firm sleep surface that does not incline.
  • Remove all toys, pillows, blankets and bumpers from the crib.
  • It’s OK to swaddle a baby, but stop swaddling as soon as they start learning to roll.
  • Babies should always be placed on their back for sleep. Research shows this is the safest.