Monday, March 26, 2012

Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

I first became aware of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when having my babies. I had a friend whose babies were all sent home from the hospital with monitors because a previous infant had died from the syndrome.
We were terrified it could happen to our children. When each of my four children initially slept through the night, I awoke in a panic, sure they had died.
The “Back-to-Sleep” campaign in the early nineties brought some reassurance. At last, we could DO something to prevent a tragedy. But my last child wouldn’t sleep unless she was placed on her stomach. I remember the long hours of worry.
Placing infants on their backs halved the numbers of SIDS deaths. But a plateau was reached in 2000. Researchers began to take a look at other risk factors. Back sleeping, bed sharing, premature birth, and maternal smoking were all examined.
From 1991-2008, the various risk factors were examined. While the numbers of stomach-sleepers had dropped, the number of infants sharing beds with parents experienced a dramatic increase. This was especially true for babies less than two months old.
The results were shocking:
·   Children who share a bed with their parents are twice as likely to die from SIDS. If they are less than three months old, the risk is 17 or 18 times greater.
· If the parents smoke and share a bed with their youngster, the risk of SIDS is 18 times greater, even if the infant is older than three months.
· Babies who sleep on soft mattresses or blankets also have an elevated risk.
Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
 Put your baby on her back to sleep.
 Use a firm sleep surface.
       Babies should sleep in their own beds.
       Remove pillows, blankets, and bumper pads from the sleeping area.
       Don’t cover the baby’s head or allow her to overheat.
       No sleeping with others.
       Return the baby to her own bed after cuddling and feeding.
       Don’t use infant wedges and positioners.
       Breastfeeding is best.
       Get your baby immunized—vaccinations are not a risk factor for SIDS.