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Ohio Infant Mortality One of Highest in Country

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (Mike Kallmeyer) -- The death of a baby is devastating.

A state Senator from Warren County has heard too many stories from parents who have lost their children.  Thats why she is on a statewide crusade to reduce our infant mortality rate.

Mike Kallmeyer shows us what is being done to save young lives.

His name is Will.  When he was 82 days old, "It was an afternoon.  He was at our baby sitters."

His parents, Nathan and Michelle said they relive that day often.  They knew right away something was wrong.  His mother arrived at the time Will was discovered.

When Michelle went to pick up her son at the sitters an ambulance was there.  She saw the medics come in with a police officer to take him out. 

But then I notice the ambulance isn't going anywhere so at that point I know something is very wrong."

Nathan got the first call that something was very wrong.

"Got the second phone call that said he didn't make it."
For his nap that afternoon baby Will was laid on an adult mattress with a blanket.  When they found him he had worked the blanket over his head.  A majority of SIDS deaths are associated with unsafe sleep environments.

Doctor Sam Hanke is a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's.  He says most infant deaths are SIDS cases.  In baby Will's case it was categorized as SUID: sudden unexplained infant deaths.  Mysteries, but with a common thread that is where they sleep.

"About 80-90% of babies are found in these environments known to be a risk factor."

"We can't allow 150 babies to die every year in the state."

State Senator Shannon Jones from Warren County has joined in the fight to save lives.

"How can we as a state be 48th in the country?"

The numbers are out and they're not good.  Ohio has the 48th worst infant mortality rate.  More than a thousand babies died in 2010, 114 of them in Hamilton county.
Senator Jones just completed a state wide fact finding mission to see what's being done and what works.

"We know that we could reduce the infant mortality rate if we could get people to follow the ABCs: putting their babies alone to sleep, on their back to sleep, and in a crib to sleep."

The first hurdles are education and awareness.  Specifically related to SIDS and sleep related deaths, people dont like to talk about.  It takes people like Nathan and Michelle to tell their story. 

It takes people like Sam Hanke to let you know it can happen to anybody.

Doctor Sam Hanke's son Charlie was fussy one night, "So I held him and got him to sleep and sitting on the coach and fell asleep with him and I woke up and he didn't and life hasn't been the same since. Charlie was with us for three weeks and he came to our lives for a reason."

For reasons like this a night time book about safe sleep was created by this doctor and dad.

"In memory of Charlie it's called Charlie's Kids.  And this book is part of that sleep safe survival kit and we've donated over 30,000 books."

Doctor Sam has had two children since, he calls them rainbow babies.  As for Nathan and Michelle they have a different perspective on life now.  They certainly don't mind interruptions.  They are blessed with three other boys and with Will, that makes four.

"We have four kids...only three of them are with us."

In memory of the son they lost, Doctor Sam Hanke and his wife have have set up the 'Charlie's Kids' Foundation. Their website has lots of information about SIDs and safe sleeping. There is an easy to follow list of do's and dont's for parents. We have a link to that under the red 'Get it' button on our website at

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