The D.C. Council has introduced the Safe Sleep for Infants Act of 2015. This bill would require all birthing centers and mid-wives to review safe sleep practices with new parents as well as have the parents sign a ‘commitment letter’. DC AAP Advocacy Chair, Dr. Ankoor Shah, testified on behalf of the DC AAP regarding this bill. Infant mortality rates in wards 5, 7, and 8 are among the highest in the nation and nearly ten times higher than in Ward 3. Risk factors for sudden unexpected infant death are co-sleeping, infant’s sleeping on their stomach, prematurity, head covering and bedding, and smoking exposure.

So we are excited that the Council is starting to think and talk about this very vital issue. Evidence shows that education by a healthcare provider can improve safe sleep practices. But we are unsure about the “commitment letters”, since there currently is no evidence that it works. More so, the DC AAP takes a broader view about this issue. Specifically the Council needs to take serious steps to address children and families in poverty as well as the high rates of smoking & nicotine addiction among the poor.