The month of October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month.
Best-selling author, attorney and filmmaker, Tonya Lewis Lee, is working to inform African Americans in particular about the dangers of SIDS. It is the third leading cause for infant death among African Americans, who – more than any other racial or ethnic group – have the highest death rate for SIDS.
Lewis Lee is the national spokesperson for the Office of Minority Health’s “A Healthy Baby Begins with You” campaign.
She has traveled across the country speaking to all walks of life and educating them about the pressing and serious issue of infant mortality. The USA is 41st in the world in terms of highest death rates for infants, which is higher than some third world countries. And the rate for African Americans is disproportionally higher than that. But even without African-Americans in the equation, the USA would still rank 30th in the world for infant deaths so it is imperative to address the dangers of this issue for not only minority populations, but for the country as a whole.
“What most people don’t realize is that infant mortality is actually the marker of the health of a nation. How healthy our babies are directly reflects our nation’s wellbeing,” says Lewis Lee. “During October, when we recognize one of the leading causes of infant deaths, SIDS, we need to do as much as we can to educate and inform people, minorities especially, of this disparity, and encourage them to make healthy and wise choices not only for their own health, but for the safety of the next generation.”
In addition, Lewis Lee produced and directed the documentary film “Crisis in the Crib: Saving Our Nation’s Babies,” about the campaign and the Preconception Peer Educators program.
Lewis Lee has traveled the country speaking to women about making healthy lifestyle choices to increase the chances of healthy birth outcomes in the face of the high rates of infant mortality that affect black women. The Congressional Black Congress recognized Lewis Lee’s work by giving her the 2009 Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust Award.
Tonya Lewis Lee speaks passionately about infant mortality. She is determined to spread awareness and ignite a sense of urgency about the need to help prevent SIDS and other diseases and conditions that have tragic consequences for our children.