Safe sleeping practices reduce SIDS

 

DOVER –– Despite a 50 percent reduction in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome over the past 20 years, SIDS remains the top killer of babies under one year of age and every October the National Institute of Child and Human Development works to spread awareness to reduce the number of infant deaths.

Although not much is known about SIDS, NICHD reports the number one cause in the reduction of SIDS cases over the years has been the implementation of safe sleep practices.

The five top safe sleep practices include always placing babies on their backs to sleep (both for naps and over night); give the protection of a crib and make sure babies don’t sleep on sofas or in beds with others; always use a firm mattress that fits and has no gap between it and the frame of the crib; use a fitted sheet that is the right size for the mattress and tuck blankets in; never use bumper pads, sleep position wedges, or pillows in the crib and; keep toys and fluffy blankets out of the crib during sleep time.

Delaware now has its own Safe Sleep Campaign, headed up by the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission and health care professionals to ensure new parents know and understand the importance of safe sleep practices.

The campaign kicked off in January 2014 after a seven-month-old’s sudden death in 2013 was determined to have been caused by unsafe sleeping.

“Education really starts at admission,” Marjorie Hershberger, Delaware’s specialist for safe sleep and sudden infant death syndrome said. “Parents are given literature about safe sleep and are given the time to have a personal conversation with one of the nurses, all of which are well informed.”

By early 2014, she had visited all six birthing hospitals in the state to educate maternity staff on safe sleep.

NICHD suggests that aside from unsafe sleep, SIDS in many cases may be caused by undetected medical complications such as brain abnormalities, genetic polymorphisms (conditions that effect the respiratory system and metabolism) or genetic mutations (conditions inherited by the parents that can cause cardiac complications).

Researchers at NICHD use a “triple risk model” to better understand SIDS. The model is a three-circle Venn diagram with one circle including being a vulnerable infant (possessing brain abnormalities, genetic polymorphisms or genetic mutations), the second circle includes being within the critical development period (the first six months of life; a time of rapid growth and development) and the third includes outside stressors.

The two of the issues cannot be controlled; all infants go through the critical development period and vulnerabilities (medical complications causing SIDS) can go undetected and remain undetectable after death.

But the third issue, outside stressors can be controlled. NICHD suggests keeping the baby’s room in the safe temperature range of 68°F to 75°F; positioning the crib away from heat vents; preventing overheating by layering the baby’s clothes and; keep all tobacco smoke away from pregnant women and all babies.

For more information about SIDS and safe sleep practices visit nichd.nih.gov/sts/Pages/default.aspx.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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