Monday, October 19, 2009

October is SIDS Awareness Month

One of the most prevalent concerns new parents have for their babies is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Generally occurring before their first birthday, SIDS has been a frightening reality for many families. When such tragedies occur parents may blame themselves or a caretaker for their baby's death. It is a tragedy that haunts parents for years to come. This type of death never has an answer that allows parents to come to terms with their loss. They forever wonder if there was something wrong with their baby that went undiagnosed, whether it will happen again if they have another child or if it was someone's fault.

Although much research has been done why SIDS happens is still a mystery to scientists. We do know however that most SIDS deaths occur between 2 and 4 months of age with 90% of cases occurring before 6 months. Two thirds of SIDS cases occur in infants being cared for by someone other than a parent. SIDS deaths rise during cold weather and boys are more vulnerable than girls. African American infants have a three times higher risk factor than Caucasian babies to be a victim of SIDS.

In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with the recommendation that babies should be put to bed on their backs. This one recommendation has reduced the incidence of SIDS by 50%!

Parents naturally worry that their baby make choke while on their backs should they spit up. However the AAP indicated that there is no increased risk of choking while lying on their backs unless the baby has GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disorder) or a malformation of the airway. If your baby has one of these conditions, consult your pediatrician on the best sleeping position for your baby.

Here are some other recommendations from the AAP and National Institute for Child and Human Development (NICHD) for reducing the risk of SIDS.

  • Put baby to bed on his or her back. This allows your baby unobstructed breathing and from re-breathing the same air they have just exhaled.
  • Do not prop baby on his or her side to sleep. Researchers believe that pressure on a baby's jaw may narrow their airway passage reducing their ability to breathe.
  • Put your baby to bed on a firm mattress without blankets or pillows.
  • Allow baby to sleep in its own crib or bassinet. Communal beds put baby at risk for being suffocated should someone roll on top of baby at night. 54% of SIDS cases happen during communal sleeping.
  • Breast fed babies may have more protection from SIDS.
  • Have a no smoking policy in your home and around baby.
  • Use a fan in baby's room. This has been found to reduce their risks by 72%!
  • Let baby have tummy time while they are alert and active. Tummy time is very important for your baby but should always be monitored by an adult.
  • Pacifiers may help reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Keep your baby's room at a comfortable temperature. Overheating can increase their risk of SIDS.

It's ok once a baby starts to roll over on their own to let them to stay in that position as they have built enough body strength to lift up their heads and move their bodies according to the AAP.

Make sure you review these recommendations with those you entrust to take care of your baby.

More information on SIDS may be found at the following websites:

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