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Back to Sleep

by Lori Sciame | May 8th, 2012 | Infants/Toddlers

As a parent, you worry about lots of things concerning your newborn, everything from the amount he or she spits up, to what type of car seat to buy. One health issue that many parents don’t even think about, though,  is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Yet, learning about crib death and  taking precautions to prevent it may literally save your child’s life.

Thank goodness SIDS is rare, but it does occasionally happen to seemingly healthy infants.  Information provided by the Centers for Disease control explains that “each year in the United States, more than 4,500 infants die suddenly of no immediately, obvious cause. Half of these Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of SUID and of all deaths among infants aged 1-12 months.”

Unfortunately, researchers don’t know exactly what causes SIDS, but they have some ideas. As outlined in Pub Med Health, researchers now think that SIDS is caused by several different factors, including:

  • Problems with the baby’s ability to wake up (sleep arousal)
  • Inability for the baby’s body to detect a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood

So, now that you know that SIDS exists, what can you do to help prevent this from happening to your beloved baby?  The first thing you can do is to place your baby on his back to sleep.  In the old days, parents used to put their children to sleep on their stomachs, but since researchers have been studying this condition, they have begun recommending putting a child on his back instead. This increases the amount of oxygen available to a sleeping infant.

Other recommendations include:

Never sleep with your child in bed, although sleeping in the same room is beneficial.  Also, never fall asleep together in a chair or on the couch as well.

Don’t keep the baby’s room too hot, and don’t overdress your child.

Keep stuffed animals and fluffy blankets out of baby’s crib or playpen.

Don’t smoke while pregnant, and don’t smoke after the baby is born. In fact, never let anyone smoke around your child.

Give your baby a pacifier when going to sleep.  Pub Med Health states, “Pacifiers at naptime and bedtime can reduce the risk of SIDS. Doctors think that a pacifier might allow the airway to open more, or prevent the baby from falling into a deep sleep. A baby that wakes up more easily may automatically move out of a dangerous position. If the baby is breastfeeding, it is best to wait until 1 month before offering a pacifier, so that it doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding.”

Of course getting good prenatal care may reduce the risk of SIDS, as does making sure your child is not born with a low birth weight.  Interestingly enough, also proper spacing between children also can reduce crib deaths.

Thank goodness researchers give guidelines about how to help prevent SUID also commonly known as SIDS.  Because of these recommendations,  thousands of precious lives have been saved.

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