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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Awards Grant to Reduce Accidental Infant Suffocations in Wayne County

DETROIT, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a spate of accidental infant suffocation deaths in Detroit and Wayne County, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has awarded a $25,000 grant to support a community-based initiative called "Infant Safe Sleep" to educate new parents about providing a safe place for newborns to sleep. The grant is in keeping with the company's social mission, part of which is to improve the health status of all Michigan residents, especially children.

The grant, awarded to the Tomorrow's Child/Michigan SIDS, during October, SIDS Awareness Month, aims to reduce the incidence of infant suffocations through a six-step program. The program was developed after five children, aged 27 days to three months, died of accidental suffocation over two days in late July, and another five suffocated between Labor Day weekend and Sept. 8 while sleeping. The total includes at least eight infants who were sharing their parents' beds. Through Sept. 8, at least 35 infants in Wayne County had died due to accidental suffocation in 2007.

"In the hospital, new parents are given proper guidance by doctors and staff on safe ways to put their infants to bed, such as always putting them in cribs on their backs without toys or other objects, and avoiding bringing them into adult beds where they could be trapped between a mattress and a wall, covered by pillows or bedding, or rolled on," said Lynda Rossi, vice president of public policy and social mission at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

"However, once at home, many parents choose to rely instead on advice from friends and family members as well as cultural practices. We hope this initiative will help get the correct information to new parents to help save them needless agony from the death of a child."

With assistance from the Wayne County Department of Public Health and Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion, Tomorrow's Child/Michigan SIDS will select three target areas in the county. Community leaders such as clergy will receive training and information on safe ways to put infants to bed.

They will then partner with health care workers and others to educate pregnant women and those with infants under a year old through classes, support groups, social events and community functions, and will also make available DVDs and videos explaining safe ways for infants to sleep. In addition, target areas will be blanketed with Infant Safe Sleep information pamphlets and doorknob hangers.

Tomorrow's Child/Michigan SIDS is a tax-exempt 501c3 nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Michigan. It partners with the Michigan Department of Community Health to administer the Title V SIDS and Other Infant Death Program. A public and private partnership, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, is collaborating to provide resources in support of the Infant Safe Sleep effort.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.6 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred, Community Blue and Healthy Blue Incentives PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living; Flexible Blue plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue products in the under-age-65 individual market. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
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