University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Around 4,000 babies suddenly die each year in the United States from no cause that is immediately apparent. “These deaths are referred to as SUIDs — Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths — and roughly half are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),” says Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.
Sudden unexpected infant deaths are deaths in babies less than 1 year old that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death are not immediately obvious prior to investigation. Along with SIDS, the other two most frequently reported causes of death are accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.
“Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, endorsed by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can help improve the safety of your baby’s sleep environment and reduce the likelihood of SUID,” Grant said.
· Babies up to 1 year old should be placed so they sleep on their backs at night and during naps.
· Babies should be placed on firm surfaces to sleep. Cribs, bassinets and other sleep surfaces should meet safety standards.
· Cover mattresses with fitted sheets; do not put blankets or pillows between mattresses and fitted sheets.
· Never put babies to sleep on water beds, chairs, sofas, cushions or sheepskins.
· Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any items that could increase the risk of strangulation, suffocation or entrapment out of the crib. Pillows, bumper pads, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys and sheepskins can cause babies to suffocate.
· Place your baby in the same room you sleep in but not in the same bed. Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents are at risk of SIDS, suffocation or strangulation.
· Breastfeed as long as you can. Research shows breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS.
· Schedule and go to all well-baby visits. Research suggests immunizations protect against SIDS.
· Keep your baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. If you smoke, try to quit. Until then, keep your home and car smoke-free.
· Do not let your baby get too hot. Keep the room where your baby sleeps at a comfortable temperature. In general, dress your baby in one extra layer of clothing than you would wear.
· Offer a pacifier at bedtime and at naptime. This helps reduce the risk of SIDS. It is OK if your baby doesn’t want to use a pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier and it drops out after he or she falls asleep, you don’t have to put it back in.
· Do not use wedges, positioners and other products marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. Not only is there no evidence they work, but in some cases, infants using such products have suffocated.
· Tell everyone who cares for your baby about safe sleep practices.
In addition, Grant said, pregnant women can take steps to reduce the risk of SIDS before the arrival of their babies. “They should set up prenatal appointments and follow their physicians’ instructions,” she said. “They will be encouraged to eat properly, and avoid alcohol, tobacco or drug use.”
Once a baby is born, a pediatrician will evaluate her or him. “Healthy babies require tummy time when they are awake to strengthen their neck muscles and prevent flat spots on their heads,” Grant said. “Parents should stay with babies during tummy time and make sure they are awake.”
More information about SUID is available at www.cdc.gov/sids/ .