Conference focuses on preventing infant deaths

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

Health care professionals from several area hospitals attended a conference last week to learn how to better educate parents and reduce infant deaths.

N.C. Healthy Start Foundation, a nonprofit agency working to reduce infant mortality, and the Carolinas Center for Injury Prevention sponsored the conference.

According to a news release, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the state’s leading cause of death for babies 1-12 months old.

In 2005, 108 North Carolina babies died from SIDS, the release said.

Infant deaths from accidental suffocation and strangulation associated with sleep environment are also on the rise — with 36 babies in North Carolina dying from these conditions in 2005.

Sleeping environments may have contributed to the deaths of two infants in Rowan County last year.

Seven-day-old Tanner Chapman died in December of 2006. His parents, Bryant Chapman and Amber Revis, said he was sleeping with them. The have since been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Matthew Gabriel Brown was 26 days old when he died in November of 2006. His mother, Shannon Elizabeth Anderson, told law enforcement officials she was sleeping on the couch with her son. Anderson was charged with second-degree murder.

Anderson also had another infant child die in the same manner in 2004.

A 7-month-old child also died in 2006, but the N.C. Medical Examiner concluded the child was the victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Rowan Regional Medical Center, Stanly Regional Medical Center, Iredell Memorial Hospital and Davis Regional Medical Center were among the conference participants.

Last week’s conference was part of a statewide initiative to address how hospital staff — including physicians and nurses — can best educate families about creating safe sleep environments.

In addition to promoting the “back to sleep” position for infants, the group also discussed the need for educational outreach to Latinos and the bed-sharing issue, the release said.

For more information on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and guidelines on safe sleeping positions for infants, visit the N.C. Healthy Start Foundation’s Web site at:

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or