In Ohio, more than 1,000 babies die each year before reaching their first birthday. In fact, more than three Ohio infants die each week due to improper sleeping arrangements - 66 percent of those are infants who were sharing a sleep surface with another person.

To help bring a spotlight to this issue, Senate Bill 198 designated October every year as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month in Ohio. This gives us a valuable opportunity to educate our citizens about the importance of safe sleep practices, particularly during the first six months of an infant's life.

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) expanded upon the original Back to Sleep campaign with updated safe sleep recommendations that encourage parents to not only place children on their backs while sleeping, but also stress the importance of creating a safe sleeping environment every time a baby goes to sleep. The recommendations include:

- Room sharing, not bed sharing;

- Always putting the baby on his or her back to sleep; and

- A sleep environment free from blankets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals and other soft objects.

To learn more about infant safe sleep practices and to see what a safe sleep environment looks like, visit www.ohioaap.org/safesleep. Let's work together to raise awareness about safe sleep practices so that more Ohio babies will celebrate their first birthdays.

Sarah Adams M.D., Hudson