Child sleeping on backMPHI recognizes October as National Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month, as approximately 143 infants die due to sleep-related causes each year in Michigan. MPHI’s Center for Child and Family Health (CCFH) collaborates with local and state level child welfare agencies, medical examiners, law enforcement agencies, health departments, court systems, prosecuting attorneys, and other health care providers to prevent infant and child mortality, strengthen supports to vulnerable populations, and increase the health and well-being of children and families.

With continued local and state level prevention efforts, the rate of death from sleep-related causes remained remarkably stable from 2010 to 2018. As with other causes of infant mortality, significant racial disparities exist among sleep-related infant deaths due to inequities rooted in systemic racism. In Michigan, Black infants were 3.5 times more likely to die of sleep-related causes than white infants. Races categorized as “other,” including American Indian and multiracial infants, were almost 2.4 times more likely to die.

A safe sleep environment can reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths. All infants should:
● Be placed to sleep on their back.
● Sleep in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable crib with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.
● Sleep on a surface separate from adults, animals and other children that is free of blankets, pillows or toys.

The data also showed Michigan infants born to a mother who smoked during pregnancy were 4.4 times more likely to die due to sleep-related causes than infants born to a mother who did not smoke during pregnancy. Any amount of breastfeeding is protective against sleep-related infant death, and these beneficial effects increase with exclusivity. Infants born to a mother who did not breastfeed were 3.4 times more likely to die due to sleep-related causes than infants born to a mother who did breastfeed. Supports are available for those seeking help to quit smoking or who want to learn more about breastfeeding.

Please visit to learn more and access an in-depth report on sleep-related infant deaths in Michigan from 2010 to 2018 as well as several jurisdiction-specific fact sheets (click on Data, Reports & Fact Sheets).

Michigan’s Department of Health and Humans Services has helpful information for parents and caregivers, community members and professionals Local resources, including crib distribution programs, can be found by clicking on “Safe Sleep Resources by County.”

A special note of appreciation to the over 1,500 professionals across the state who tirelessly support Michigan’s county-level child death review teams. Without their time and dedication, we would not be in a position to share this data which helps to inform the work being done to support Michigan families!