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Health Officials Hope Safe Sleep Ads Send Memorable Message

Mandie Trimble
Health officials say the safest way for babies to sleep is alone, of their backs and in an empty crib. Local officials will roll out a new campaign to help reduce infant mortality rates.

In an effort to reduce infant deaths, Columbus Public Health is rolling out a new multi-media Safe Sleep campaign Tuesday. We sat down with a father who lost his son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, in 2009.

Nathan Hurd knew to put his son, Will, on his back when he was put to bed. Hurd did not know the blanket placed in the crib was unsafe.

“I wish I could go back, and I always wonder what would’ve happened if he didn’t have that blanket with him," Hurd said. 

Health experts say to reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths babies should always sleep alone, on their backs and in an empty crib…no bumper pads, blankets or toys. 


The safe sleep TV ad is jarring, featuring a baby mattress inside a grave.

“These deaths are preventable. And so there are things that we can do that are very simple by people understanding how they can safety put their babies in bed," Celerbate One director Liane Eagle said.

Celebrate One is a group carrying out local a plan to reduce infant mortality. 

“We can’t sugar coat this message, because if we fail to really get the word across, then babies will die," Eagle said. 

Sleep-related deaths account for 15 percent Franklin County infant deaths. In some neighborhoods, like the South Side, the number soars to 60 percent.  

“The ABC’s of safe sleep will not save every child. But the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that many, many, many can be saved," Hurd said. 

A Columbus Public Health spokesman says Milwaukee, Wisconsin saw an 80 percent decline in sleep-related infant deaths after it ran a similar campaign.