For Your Health: How families can reduce the risk of SIDS

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By Kristine Lalic

Did you know that every year, an average of five babies die in Solano County due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)? SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a healthy infant and is the leading cause of death for babies between 1 month and 1 year of age in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released recommendations to help reduce the risk of SIDS. The recommendations include placing baby on their back to sleep, creating a safe sleep environment, encouraging parents and caregivers to sleep in the same room but not the same bed with their baby, avoiding the use of alcohol or other drugs during and after pregnancy, not allowing anyone to smoke around the baby, and attending regular prenatal care appointments. In recognition of October as SIDS Awareness Month, Solano Maternal Child Adolescent Health Bureau shares these reminders for safe sleep for Solano’s babies.

ABCs of safe sleep

Are you familiar with the ABCs of Safe Sleep? All babies should sleep Alone, on their Back, and should be placed in a Crib or bassinet. Babies should be put on their back to sleep at nighttime and for every nap time, in their own separate sleep space. Sleeping next to an adult or another child is not recommended, as it can increase the risk of accidental suffocation. A “safe sleep environment” is a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress covered with a tight-fitting sheet. The sleep environment should be clear of any soft objects, including stuffed toys, blankets, pillows and crib bumpers. Babies should be dressed comfortably with their head uncovered, and not so warmly that they might overheat. Recommended sleep wear for cooler weather includes a “sleep sack” with a few layers underneath if needed. Finally, parents should not let anyone smoke around their baby as smoking increases risk for SIDS and other health problems.

Breast-feeding reduces risk of SIDS

Breast-feeding, even for a small amount of time, has been shown to reduce the risk for SIDS. Solano Maternal Child Adolescent Health Bureau advocates for regular breast-feeding, as research shows that breast-feeding provides beneficial nutrients to babies, supports their healthy development, and protects against some diseases. Breast-feeding also helps mothers as it lowers their risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For mothers who are breast-feeding, Solano Maternal Child Adolescent Health Bureau recommends placing the crib, bassinet or portable Pack N’ Play near where they plan to breast-feed, so that it is easier to put babies back in a safe sleep environment after breast-feeding, without waking them up.

Danger in using car seats, swings, other devices

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any car seats, bouncers, swings and strollers to be used as a regular sleep place. If babies fall asleep in car seats, swings, rockers or other devices, they should be moved to their regular safe sleep place as soon as is practical. Babies who fall asleep in the car should be taken out of their car seat upon arrival and placed in a safe sleep environment when possible. Solano families can reduce the risk for SIDS for their babies. Solano Maternal Child Adolescent Health Bureau encourages families to share their safe sleep practices on social media using the hashtag #SafeSleepSolano. For more information about SIDS, safe sleep practices, and family resources for a SIDS loss, contact Solano Maternal Child Adolescent Health Bureau at 784-8600. Kristine Lalic is a health education specialist from Solano County Health & Social Services, Solano Public Health and a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.

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