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Pruitt leads campaign to keep infants ‘Safe to Sleep’

Pediatric physical therapist Stephanie Pruitt is serving as spokesperson to alert the public about a silent killer.

The National Institute of Health has launched the “Safe to Sleep Campaign” to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and all other sleep-related, unexpected infant deaths.

The national institute has named Pruitt as a “Safe to Sleep Champion” and spokesperson for North Alabama. Pruitt has practiced pediatric physical therapy for 10 years. She directs this therapy at Eagle Rehab in Madison.

She is author of “The Truth About Tummy Time,” a parent’s guide to SIDS, car seats and an infant’s normal physiology and development.

By definition, SIDS is “the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under one year of age,” Pruitt said. “After a year, a sudden, unexpected death is termed Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC), which is defined as an infant death occuring after 12 months of age.”

The highest risk SIDS is between two to fourth months of age, Pruitt said.

“The biggest mistake parents make is putting soft items in the crib, like pillows, stuffed animals, thick, heavy blankets and the like,” Pruitt said. “All of these items pose suffocation risks.”

Pruitt and 35 other champions will promote the Safe to Sleep Campaign in media outlets throughout October, National SIDS Awareness month.

“What you know could save your baby’s life,” Pruitt said. “Although the SIDS rate has declined in recent years, rates of other sleep-related deaths like suffocation, accidental strangulation and entrapment have increased.”

The campaign’s main message is a safe sleeping environment, including an infant’s crib, bassinet or play yard with a firm mattress that fits the bed snugly.  “Infants should not be placed to sleep in an adult bed due to the risk of overlay, entrapment or suffocation,” Pruitt said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing the baby on the back to sleep.

For more information about the Safe to Sleep campaign, visit nichd.nih.gov/SIDS. For more information about Pruitt’s book, visit abouttummytime.com.

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