SIDS Awareness Month: Help prevent sudden infant death syndrome

By KDHE Secretary Susan Mosier 

Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related infant deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome. October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment remains committed to educating providers, parents, and caregivers about the risks associated with SIDS and how to keep infants safe during sleep.

While some sleep-related deaths are attributed to SIDS, many are complicated by factors related to unsafe sleep environments. KDHE reminds parents of the ABCs of Safe Sleep. Babies should always be placed to sleep Alone, on their Back, and in a safety-approved Crib that is free from blankets, bumpers, pillows and soft toys.

Sleep sacks are the safe way to keep babies warm while sleeping and help to avoid overheating. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing without bed-sharing as an effort to decrease the risk of SIDS. Parents are encouraged to set up a crib or a portable crib in their room, so that they can hear their baby and get to their baby easily for feedings – but the baby is not in the same bed with them.

Babies who share a sleep surface have an increased risk of suffocation, strangulation and asphyxia. Additional recommendations for SIDS reduction include the avoidance of exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs; breastfeeding; routine immunization; and use of a pacifier.

Communication regarding infant care practices at home and away from home can reduce the risk of SIDS as well as unintentional suffocation and strangulation. It is important for parents and child care providers to communicate with each other about safe sleep. This important conversation needs to take place before the very first day the child is cared for and should be consistently reinforced. The Safe Kids Kansas Safe Sleep Tip Sheet has information and recommended safety guidelines for both parents and child care providers on safe sleep environments and safe sleep positions.

By working together on innovative ways to address infant deaths and continuing to educate health care providers, parents and caregivers about safe sleep, we can make significant progress in reducing the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

More information about safe sleep and the efforts to reduce sleep-related deaths can be found on the KIDS Network website www.kidsks.org. Find out more about maternal and child health programming at www.kansasmch.org. Review more statistics at http://www.kdheks.gov/phi/index.htm.

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