Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New Infant Safe-Sleep Recommendations to Prevent SIDS

Every year in the U.S., approximately 3,500 seemingly healthy infants die suddenly during their sleep.  A few deaths are clearly due to strangulation or suffocation, but most are lumped under the ill-defined heading of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  The actual causes of many of these SIDS deaths are never identified clearly, though it is suspected that certain body positions and the type of bedding may contribute to many of the cases.  The highest risk is to infants between 1 and 4 months of age.

Recognizing that parenting is a new and potentially overwhelming experience for some parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has produced relatively easy-to-understand guidelines for parents that are designed to reduce the risk of SIDS.  Foremost among them; newborns should sleep in a crib or bassinet in the same room as their parents for at least six months, and preferably up to a year.  According to the AAP, room-sharing alone reduces the risk of SIDS by 50%.  The crib (or bassinet) should have a relatively firm, bare sleep surface that is free of toys, pillows, and, if possible, even blankets.  The newborn should be placed on his/her back.  If blankets are necessary for warmth, they should not restrict the baby's breathing or cause overheating.

For some reason, breastfeeding also apparently reduces the risk of SIDS, so it, too, is recommended. And it goes without saying that the infant should not be exposed to smoke, alcohol, or illicit drugs.

Simple, really.  Easy enough for even a new parent to understand, and that's the point. A little prevention goes a long way.

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