CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland area has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, makes up a large portion of those deaths.
Michelle Hibbs of Akron knows what it's like to lose a child to SIDS. Her son David died in November of 1993 from SIDS.
"I had checked on him first - just peeked in on him, but then after I went down and checked on him again, that's when I noticed that he was white as a ghost. He had foam coming out of his mouth," described Hibbs.
The pain of losing David is something Hibbs still struggles with to this day.
"The feeling inside hurt so bad that I lost him, I had actually taken a shovel to the graveyard, and I was going to dig him up just so I could hold him," said Hibbs.
Dr. Erin Frank of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital says it's still not entirely known what causes SIDS, but doctors know there are ways to reduce the risk.
"Babies should be sleeping alone in their own crib on their back in a completely empty crib with nothing other than a fitted sheet," said Frank.
A study published in Pediatrics just revealed some new guidelines for parents.
- The baby should sleep in the same room as his or her parents.
"Not sleeping on the same bed surface in their own sleep space, but in the same room as a parent," added Frank.
- Breast feed your baby.
"Breast fed babies do tend to wake more frequently to feed. Babies process the breast milk faster than formula, so they have a higher state of arousal," said Frank.
- Give you baby a pacifier.
"There's some thoughts that if the baby is intermittently sucking on that, that may change their level of arousal, and maybe they are not sleeping quite as deeply. You want babies to get good sleep, you want them to be able to awake if something changes in the environment," said Frank.
Of course, let your doctor know if your baby goes limp, turns blue or appears to stop breathing for any period of time.
Experts also say don't overheat your baby - that can also increase the risk of death from SIDS.
Michelle Hibbs is hoping that by sharing her devastating loss she can raise awareness about SIDS and possibly save a life.
"Do what your doctors tell you. Protect those babies," added Hibbs.