October is ‘Sudden Infant Death’ Awareness Month

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In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Infant Loss Awareness Month. The Fayette County Health Department wants to inform the public on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS is the abrupt unexpected death of a baby under the age of 1 year which cannot be explained even when a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. Most common age for SIDS cases is 1 to 4 months of age and 90 percent of them occur before six months. It is slightly more prevalent in boys than girls.

SIDS is a sudden and silent medical disorder that can happen to an infant who seems healthy. In 2013 approximately 1,500 infants died from SIDS. Although the causes of death in many of these children can’t be explained, most occur while the infant is sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment. Not all of these deaths are due to an unsafe sleep environment.

American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Safe Sleep Campaign from National Institute of Health all agree that there are ways to reduce SIDS. They are called the A, B, C’s.

A – Alone. Babies are safest alone on their backs in an empty crib.

B – Back. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to choke than those who sleep on their sides or stomachs.

C. – Crib. Two out of three babies who died while sleeping were sharing an adult bed, couch or chair.

Other suggestions are;

– To use a firm, sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib covered by a fitted sheet.

– Room sharing – keep sleep area in parent’s room but not in parent’s bed.

– Keep soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area to reduce risk of SIDS.

– Avoid overheating in the house. Do not let your baby get too hot during sleep. Sleep sacks are recommended for infants to wear at night for sleep.

– Follow your health care provider’s guidance on your baby’s vaccines and regular health checkups.

– Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

– No smoking and no second hand smoke in the house helps reduce SIDS

– Give your baby plenty of Tummy Time when he or she is awake and when someone is watching the baby. This helps prevent flat spots on the baby’s head, makes neck and shoulder muscles stronger so baby can start to sit up, crawl and walk and improves baby’s motor skills.

Once babies roll over on their own that is considered a natural part of baby’s growth and development. This happens between 4 to 6 months. If your baby rolls over on their own you do not need to turn them to their back. The important thing is that babies start to sleep on their backs and no soft, loose bedding or stuffed animals should be around them.

To reduce the risk of SIDS when a woman is pregnant she should not smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy or after her baby is born. It is also important to get regular health care during pregnancy. Breastfeeding the baby for the first six months helps to reduce the risk of SIDS. For every 87 babies who die from SIDS only three are breastfed.

Sleeping on the back has definitely reduced the number of deaths. In the early 1990’s before we knew about safe sleeping, 5,000 babies died a year from SIDS.

For more information please call Jeannie Bihl, R.N. at the Fayette County Health Department at 335-5910.

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