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Pediatrics Group Issues Sudden Infant Death Prevention Guidelines

separator In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued revised recommendations to its year 2000 guidelines on the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. The Academy took this action because it recognizes that although SIDS deaths have decreased in the past 10 years, SIDS is still the leading cause of infant deaths beyond the newborn period in the United States.

Among the recommendations:

 ►        Have babies sleep on their backs, not their stomachs or sides. Side sleeping, the Academy states, is unstable and increases the chance that babies will roll over onto their stomachs. Every caregiver should use the back-sleeping position at all times for sleep.

►        Avoid bed sharing. Being in the parents’ bed for comfort and nursing is recommended, but research indicates that babies who sleep in the same bed with their parents are at higher risk of SIDS. 

►        Have babies sleep near you. Research shows that babies who sleep in the same room as their parents, but in cribs or bassinets, have a reduced risk of SIDS. If your baby doesn’t sleep in your room, be sure he or she is very near, so you can hear any signs of distress.

►        Encourage pacifier use at naps and at bedtime. For infants who are breastfeeding, parents should wait one month before introducing pacifiers, in order to get the baby comfortable with nursing. Some parents have been concerned that pacifier use makes breastfeeding more difficult and that it causes dental complications later on. But the Academy states that the benefits of pacifier use outweigh the risks.

Other recommendations that the Academy has made include:

►        Use a firm crib mattress covered with a sheet as your baby’s sleep surface. 

►        Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib. 

►        To avoid the flattening at the back of the head that is common when babies spend too much time on their back, encourage “tummy time.” When babies are awake, put them on their stomachs regularly. Additionally, avoid excessive time in car-seat carriers and similar seats.

Risk factors for SIDS
The following are SIDS risk factors:

  • Sleeping while lying on the stomach
  • Sleeping on a soft surface
  • Maternal smoking during the pregnancy
  • Allowing the baby to become too hot
  • Receiving no prenatal care or receiving only late prenatal care
  • Being a very young mother at the time of birth
  • Being born before due date
  • Having low birth weight
  • Being male

The American Academy of Pediatrics; Pediatrics. 2005;116:1245-1255;
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