Q: When is a continuing education program more than just a way to earn those all-important CEUs? A: When it’s also part of a national outreach effort to engage nurses in the fight against one of the nation’s most tragic minority health disparities.

Although Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rates have declined in recent years–thanks to prevention initiatives like the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)’s “Back to Sleep” campaign–SIDS is still the leading cause of death for U.S. infants between one month and one year of age. And it is particularly deadly in African American and Native American communities. Black infants are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS than their white counterparts, and SIDS rates for American Indians/Alaska Natives are nearly three times higher than those for white infants.

Recognizing the unique role nurses can play in educating communities of color about SIDS prevention, the NICHD has teamed up with the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) to create the Continuing Education Program on SIDS Risk Reduction: Curriculum for Nurses. Designed to help nurses communicate information about SIDS risk factors to parents and other child caregivers, the new CE course reviews the most current research findings and theories about SIDS and provides practical approaches for teaching “safe sleep” practices and other risk reduction techniques in a multicultural environment.

The course, which is approved for 1.1 contact hours of continuing education credit from the Maryland Nurses Association, can be downloaded free of charge from the NICHD’s Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/pages/sidsnursesce.aspx. The NICHD and its partners are also working to develop an interactive online version of the program, which should available in early 2008.

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