March 28, 2011

Give Babies Room to Breathe

DFPS renews ad campaign to prevent infant sleeping deaths

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is renewing a three-month broadcast and social media campaign to educate parents and caregivers on lowering the risk of infants dying in their sleep.

Hundreds of Texas babies die in their sleep each year - suddenly and without a clear explanation. Still more die in their sleep from accidental suffocation or strangulation. Last year, DFPS' Child Protective Services program investigated 164 infant deaths that occurred as infants slept with adults or older children (see map).

While the exact causes of many of these deaths are unknown, many of these tragedies might have been prevented by simply giving babies "room to breathe" when they sleep.

Three-month old Tyler Huerta of La Grange suffocated as he slept on his stomach with his mother last year. Marisa Huerta-Lehmann urges other parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs in bassinets or cribs, not in adult beds. "I don't want anybody else to roll over and touch their child and see that their baby is dead next to them. That's an image I will never get out of my head," she said.

Texas Association of Broadcasters member stations will air the Room to Breathe TV and radio spots from March 28 until the end of June, all across the state. You can also view and share the spots from DFPS' You Tube channel or the campaign websites, BabyRoomToBreathe.org and BebeEspacioParaRespirar.org. The websites are filled with safe sleeping tips and resources. All materials and public services announcements are available in English and Spanish.

"Parents, child care workers, and anyone who takes care of infants needs to know to always give babies room to breathe when they sleep," says DFPS Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein.

To lower the risk of infant death while sleeping:

  • Always put infants to sleep alone, on their backs, and in a crib or other firm sleeping surface.
  • Never put babies to sleep with soft bedding, pillows, bumper pads, or stuffed animals that may interfere with a baby's ability to breathe.
  • Never sleep with infants while you are under the influence of alcohol or any drug or medication that causes drowsiness.
  • Never sleep with an infant if you are obese or extremely fatigued.
  • Never expose an infant to second hand smoke.

For more information, visit BabyRoomToBreathe.org. To find a DFPS public information officer visit our Regional Media Specialists contact page.