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Dennis Cooley, MD
October is SIDS Awareness Month
Safe Kids Kansas offers sleep safety tips
October is SIDS Awareness Month, and Safe Kids Kansas urges parents and caregivers to remember the phrase “back to sleep.” Babies need to sleep on their backs, face up, to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS is still not fully understood, but it is estimated that 900 cases each year involve soft bedding and suffocation in a crib or other sleeping environment. Soft bedding and mattresses have also been linked to more than 100 cases of fatal suffocation in playpens since 1988.
“Babies need to sleep face up, on their backs, until they’re old enough to turn themselves over,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator. “The phrase 'back to sleep' has saved hundreds of lives. Within 10 years after public health professionals started teaching new parents to lay a baby on his or her back to sleep, the death rate from SIDS was cut in half.”
Most infant suffocation (60 percent) happens in a crib or bed. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow, infant cushion or other soft bedding or when someone in the same bed rolls over onto them.
“It’s tempting to hold your baby in bed with you, but think very carefully about the latest sleeping guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),” says Stegelman. “It’s risky to share a bed or sofa with a baby, especially if you’re tired, you’ve been drinking alcohol or you’re taking medication.”
The AAP announced findings in 2005 concluding that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in the same room as a parent, but in a separate crib near the parents’ bed. Sleeping with a baby on a sofa or chair is especially discouraged.
The AAP also found a higher risk of SIDS in babies with a high body temperature and recommends that the air temperature in the nursery should be “comfortable for a lightly clothed adult,” and the baby should not be bundled in too much clothing. Also, there is some evidence of a higher risk of SIDS in babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Based on the AAP’s report, Safe Kids Kansas also recommends these precautions for babies who cannot yet turn themselves over (generally, babies less than six months old):
“It’s worth repeating; lay your baby back to sleep,” says Stegelman. “The single most powerful step you can take to reduce the risk of SIDS is to make sure babies under six months always sleep on their backs, facing up, on a firm surface without soft objects around.”
For more information about SIDS, airway obstruction and nursery safety visit: www.usa.safekids.org/.
Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Norton, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For more information visit www.safekidskansas.org.
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