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Topics > Healthy Outlook > Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rate has been dropping

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rate has been dropping

Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed, Feb. 02, 2005

By Dawn Dailey, R.N., M.S.N.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) continues to be a serious problem, but because of vigilant parents like Gina and Mario, the SIDS rate has been dropping.

Gina and Mario have recently discovered that their 2-month old daughter Monica appears to be more comfortable when lying on her tummy - she is quieter and not as restless. But Gina and Mario resisted placing Monica on her tummy to sleep, even though about 20 percent of parents in the U.S. do so when their infants reach 2 months old because they claim their infants sleep better on their bellies.

Gina and Mario have it right - the back is the safest sleep position for infants under 1 year old. In fact, SIDS deaths have decreased by almost half since 1994, when the "Back to Sleep" public awareness campaign to prevent SIDS began.

Gina and Mario still let Monica have her "tummy time" when she is awake and there is someone watching. Not only does this soothe her, but it also helps her neck and shoulder muscles get stronger. Gina and Mario are now wondering what to do when Monica gets old enough and strong enough to roll over on her own.

My recommendation to them, based on revised SIDS risk reduction messages put out by the California SIDS Program last October, was that they shouldn't force their baby to stay on her back, and certainly not with the use of wedges and similar devices that could prove even more dangerous. I told them that SIDS risk decreases as their baby gets older, and that by the time she can roll over on her own, she probably can sleep safely on her tummy.

I again mentioned other things that they and other parents could do to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Avoid smoking around your baby at any time, including during pregnancy.
  • Make sure your baby sleeps in a safety-approved crib. Use tight-fitting sheets over the mattress.
  • Remove all soft things, such as loose bedding, pillows and stuffed toys, from the sleep area. Avoid the use of bumper pads.
  • Never place your baby on a sofa, waterbed, soft chair, pillow or beanbag, as your baby could get trapped in these soft unstable surfaces.
  • Having your baby sleep with you in your bed may be risky. Adult beds can have soft mattresses, loose beddings, gaps and other hidden hazards that may be unsafe for babies. If you choose to bring your baby to bed with you, return your infant to her or his crib before you fall asleep.
  • Keep your baby from getting hot. Babies should be kept warm - not hot and sweaty. Dress your baby with the same amount of clothing you're wearing and keep the temperature in your baby's room so that it feels comfortable to you.
  • Keep your baby's face and head uncovered during sleep. If possible, avoid using a blanket by dressing your baby in a one-piece sleeper, instead.

Gina and Mario are wonderful parents to work with because they make sure they share SIDS information with everyone who cares for their baby. Child care providers, baby sitters, grandparents and all other caregivers should know the risk of SIDS and how to reduce it.

More information about SIDS

Dawn Dailey is SIDS program coordinator for Contra Costa County.

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