A new public-private partnership between the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Meridian Health Plan of Iowa is targeting four Iowa counties in a multi-county Cribs for Kids program. Women delivering babies at participating hospitals within the pilot counties will receive a free crib, if needed.

“We are proud to be partnering with Meridian Health Plan of Iowa in this effort to provide safe sleeping environments for Iowa’s infants,” says IDPH Community Health Consultant P.J. West, in a release. Funding from the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visitation program at IDPH with supplemental funds from Meridian Health Plan will assure that parents who deliver an infant at hospitals in participating counties will receive a crib free of charge. The participating counties are Hamilton (Hamilton County Public Hospital), Black Hawk (Covenant and Allan), Des Moines (Great River Medical Center), and Clinton (Mercy Medical Center-Clinton).

“Nationally, detailed data on sleep-related infant deaths reveals significant concerns about safe sleep practices,” says Meridian Health Plan Vice President of Quality and Performance Improvement Meghan Harris. “More than half of infants that died of a sleep-related cause were bed-sharing at time of death.” Sleep-related infant deaths are also an issue in Iowa. Such deaths include those due to SIDS, asphyxia or suffocation, or undetermined/unknown cause. An average of one death out of every 1,000 births in Iowa is attributed to a sleep-related cause. It is clear safe sleeping can save infant lives and safe cribs are an important part of a safe sleep environment.

The pilot project extends 1 year and success will be measured by assessing prevalence of safe sleep environments in intervention counties.