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State Hopes To Reduce Number of SIDS Cases At Child Care Centers

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RALEIGH — The health of your child is the goal of a new program launched Wednesday. The state wants to reduce the risk of babies dying fromSudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) in child care centers outside the home.

Barbara Kotas lost her 3-month-old son, Kyle, to SIDS. She says a baby sitter put him to sleep on his stomach instead of his back.

"In the one hour between when she got him to sleep and when we got home, he died in his sleep. It takes so little time, less than a minute," she says.

"Our focus on reducing the risk of SIDS in a child care setting is based on the latest research," says Janice Freedman of theNorth Carolina Healthy Start Foundation.

Health experts say the number of SIDS deaths is down since parents have learned how to prevent it, but they say the risk of SIDS is 12 times higher for babies who stay at day care. They are expanding their "Back to Sleep" campaign to target child care providers.

Teachers at day care centers are educated about SIDS and how to prevent it. Babies are always put down on their backs at nap time.

"If a baby is accustomed to sleeping on his back at home and they come to a child care center and they're put to sleep on his stomach, there is an increased risk." says Anne Carver of Jordan Family Center. "We'll make sure that they're on their back, make sure their cover is away from their face and tucked in around them to be secure."

Experts did not know much about SIDS when Kotas' son died. Kyle would have turned 18 this month. She says "Back to Sleep" is advice every parent and caregiver should follow.

"I think you have to insist on it with day care providers, with grandparents, with everybody who comes into contact with your child because you just don't want to say, 'If only,'" she says.

Dozens of billboards with the "Back to Sleep" message are going up all over the state during the next few days.