SIDS: "Back to Sleep" Campaign
Cut SIDS Numbers by 50 percent!
All parents of a young child fear Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Crib death is a big reason for the sale of thousands of high tech monitors with loud alarms to alert parents a sleeping baby is in distress.
Now, there is a suitably named campaign aimed at cutting the risk to sleeping infants and babies: The Back to Sleep campaign. Amazingly, simply placing babies on their backs to sleep reduces the risk from SIDS dramatically.
Thirteen years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first made its recommendation that all healthy infants be placed on their backs to sleep, thus reducing the risk of SIDS. Since then, the percentage of infants placed on their backs to sleep has increased dramatically, and the rates of SIDS have declined by more than 50 percent.
I know this sounds incredible. My wife says that it is not what she was told when she was a young mother. Yet, shortly after the AAP recommendation, the following groups all joined with the AAP: the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the SIDS Alliance (now First Candle/ SIDS Alliance), the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA. All these groups have launched their own Back To Sleep campaigns to inform parents and infant caregivers about the importance of infants and older babies sleeping on their backs.
Here are the rules.
- Lay your newborn down on her/his back, not on the baby's stomach. Research indicates this position lowers the risk of SIDS.
- Avoid covering your baby with a blanket. Instead, put her/him in a sleeper suit to keep baby warm without blankets. The blankets themselves are a problem and babies should not be allowed to get too warm.
- Provide proper bedding: a firm infant mattress free of pillows, stuffed animals or comforters that could block the baby's airway. Crib bumper should be securely fastened or not used at all. (The public health nurse advised my daughter to completely remove the bumpers from her baby's crib.)
- Check with your pediatrician about alternate sleeping positions if your baby was a peemie who experienced respiratory distress or if your baby has a gastroesophageal reflux. Also check with your pediatrician before introducing your baby to a newborn sleep pillow used to prevent your baby from rolling from her/his side or back onto her/his stomach.allowed to get too warm.
And don't fear the pacifier.
Several studies have found that infants who used a pacifier when going to sleep had a lower risk of SIDS compared with infants who did not. There may be as much as a 60% reduction in SIDS risk with pacifier use at bedtime.
Sleeping on back safer than sideIf a baby insists on sleeping on her/his side, position the baby's arms to make turning onto the stomach less likely. Strive to train your baby to sleep on her/his back.
My granddaughter Fiona, above, is fighting the Back to Sleep advice but she is kept off her stomach when sleeping and luckily she hates the prone position at all times.