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SIDS Awareness Month

What is SIDS?
SIDS is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is the unexpected death of an otherwise healthy infant during his/her first year of life that goes unexplained after extensive post mortem tests. SIDS typically claims approximately 2,000 infants each year, but this figure has dropped significantly during the last 12 years due to the “Back to Sleep Campaign launched by the SIDS Alliance, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The majority of all SIDS related fatalities occur in children aged 2 to 4 months, with 90% of all deaths occurring before the age of 6 months. SIDS affects infants of every ethnic and economic group. However statistics show that both Native American and African Americans infants are affected two to three times more often than Caucasian infants.

Causes of SIDS
Age appears to play a factor is SIDS. Babies born to older mothers have a lower risk for SIDS. Teenage mothers have the highest risk for SIDS, and the risk increases with multiple pregnancies during the teen years. Shorter intervals between births have been shown to increase the risk of SIDS.

Through research and studies, cigarette smoking, frequent respiratory infections/colds, and excessively warm environments have all been identified as SIDS culprits.

Of prime susceptibility for SIDS are children weighing less than 4 pounds, infants born into families with a history of SIDS, infants born to teenage mothers with at least one other child in the home, infants exposed to drugs – before, during, or after pregnancy, and infants who have had serious medical complications.

Reducing the Risk of SIDS
Keep an eye on infants at all times – especially when sleeping. Make sure sleeping areas are clutter-free, sleeping surfaces are firm and infants have their own sleeping area. An ideal sleeping environment is also cool and infants are dressed appropriately for comfort.

It is also said that early prenatal care and proper nutrition during pregnancy reduce the possibility of SIDS. After birth, research shows that SIDS occurs in smaller numbers of breastfed babies than formula-fed infants. Breast milk is better for digestion and reduces the amount of gastrointestinal complications that bottle-fed babies often experience.

Infants should stay clear of cigarette smoke and away from people who have smoked. The greater the exposure (duration or frequency) to cigarette smoke, the probability of SIDS increases proportionally.

5 Tips for Safer Sleeping

  1. Back to Sleep. As the campaign states, place babies on their backs to sleep. Babies should be in their own cribs or bassinettes near parents for at least their first six months.

  2. Keep baby’s sleeping area free of soft fluffy items such as pillows, stuffed animals, plush blankets, comforters, or super soft bumper pads. Babies can snuggle into soft areas and suffocate.

  3. Clothe infants in blanket sleepers and warm pajamas, but take care to not overheat infants. Overheating has been found to be a primary cause in SIDS cases. Room temperatures should range between 68 oF – 72 oF.

  4. Pacifiers can help reduce the chance of SIDS. Experts recommend that pacifiers be provided any time infants are expected to sleep.

  5. Make sure everyone who cares for your child is well-versed in these practices.

For more information, visit First Candle (SIDS Alliance)

Written by StorkNet Staff Writer Kim Green-Spangler

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