Although the exact cause of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is unknown, we do know what risk factors can contribute to SIDS.
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The following may increase the risk of SIDS:
• Sleeping on the stomach
• Being around cigarette smoke while in the womb or after being born
• Sleeping in the same bed as parents (co-sleeping)
• Soft bedding in the crib
• Multiple birth babies (being a twin, triplet, etc.)
• Premature birth
• Having a brother or sister who had SIDS
• Mothers who smoke or use illegal drugs
• Being born to a teen mother
• Short time period between pregnancies
• Late or no prenatal care
• Living in poverty situations
As human service providers, we do what we can to spread safe sleep education and bring awareness to some of these other risk factors.  Some may be beyond our control or the mother’s control, but it is important to look at the ones we can control.
Another risk factor that can be controlled, or even eliminated, is December 31 and January 1.  Why dates?  “After examining 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006, researchers found that on Jan. 1, the number of babies who die of SIDS jumps up by 33 percent.” (www.sheknows.com)  Even parents who practice safe sleep may be impaired as they celebrate the arrival of the new year and are not as careful with baby on this night.  Parents can remove the risk by making sure that just as they would assign a designated driver, they assign a designated “caretaker” – someone who will not be impaired and someone who knows about safe sleep practices so that baby is never in jeopardy.  This practice should also be in play on other days when there are celebrations, date nights, or parties.  Help parents remember to always put baby first.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager, tleonard@scanva.org
(Learn more about SCAN’s Operation Safe Babies here.)
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