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Babies Die at Alarmingly High Rate in Ohio, New Safe Sleeping Push
UPDATED: 9:31 AM EDT
DAYTON -- Babies die at an alarmingly high rate in Ohio, and local hospitals are working hard to save precious, innocent lives.

Ohio ranks 47th nationwide in infant mortality rates. More than seven babies die for every 1,000 births every year; but a new program called "Safe Sleep is Good 4 Baby" was designed in hopes of lowering that number to 6 per 1,000 by the year 2020.

At 2 days old, Baby Na'Jour is all bundled up.

"I had a daughter that passed away because of SIDS ... he is my fourth," said Nytalia Petestone who explains it has been six years since that difficult time.

"It was very unexpected, but everything happens for a reason, so you just have to keep going, but this is sort of my blessing again," Petestone said.

Na'Jour's swaddled up, something Miami Valley Hospital and other Premier hospitals are pushing for new moms in hopes of preventing infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping..

"We need to look at that and make sure that we're demonstrating for our moms and dads what they need to be doing at home. So the sleep sacks are something that we could do here and get them started on the right track," said Jeanne Ponziani, Director of Clinical Operations for Miami Valley Hospital South.

Every mom at Premier hospital will go home with one, after being educated.

"I think that it would be very good. It's putting an awareness out there.... trying to make a change... trying new things that may work to prevent SIDS," said Petestone who wishes she had the same education six years ago.

"All of those unsafe sleep environments ... if we eliminate those, then potentially we're going to eliminate 65 percent of the babies who are dying," said Sheree Young, director of the Heal Program for Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.

Dayton Children's is also part of this statewide initiative called "Safe Sleep is Good 4 Baby." Experts there push the ABCs for babies: alone, on the back, in a crib. And for families who do endure this tragedy, they are there to help.

"There are many resources in the community for bereavement supports. It is really a very challenging journey, we don't want anybody to walk through it alone. We are here and we have many families who come from the birth hospitals," said Cindy Brown, a Clinical Nurse Specialist.
  
Back at Miami Valley, it is nearly time to head home for Nytalia and Na'Jour, swaddled with new information.

"I feel a lot better knowing this may be safer for my baby, while he's sleeping," said Petestone.

Atrium Medical Center in Middletown implemented this safe sleep method about two years ago after they had four infant deaths in a three-months period; and it is working as they have seen a decrease in infant deaths.

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