Safe sleeping environment for babies reduces risk of SIDS

Safe sleeping environment for babies reduces risk of SIDS Each year in the United States, nearly 5,000 babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under one year of age, claimed 20 babies in South Dakota in 1998.

While it's not known what causes SIDS, medical scienceshas found some preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of SIDS for babies younger than 12 months. One of the most important things parents can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS is to put their healthy baby on his or her back to sleep, whether for a nap or to bed for the night. Some parents worry that babies sleeping on their backs might choke on spit-up or vomit during their sleep but there is no evidence that sleeping on the back causes choking.

According to the Back to Sleep Campaign, parents and caregivers can also do the following to reduce their babies' risk of SIDS:


* Put your babies to sleep on their back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety standards.


* Don't let your babies sleep on a waterbed, sheepskin, a pillow, or other soft materials. Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys, and other soft products from the crib. As many as 900 infant deaths each year are still associated with suffocation in soft bedding.


* Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering.


* If a blanket is used, make it a thin one. Place the baby with his or her feet at the foot of the crib and tuck the blanket around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby's chest. Make sure the baby's head remains uncovered during sleep.


* Keep the baby's room warm, but not too warm, and avoid overdressing the baby. An overheated baby is more likely to go into a deep sleep from which it is difficult to arouse. A good guideline is to keep the baby's room at a temperature that feels comfortable to you.


* Don't smoke around your baby and don't let others do so. Babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk of SIDS, as well as more colds and other diseases.

For more information about infant sleep position, contact a doctor or the Back to Sleep Campaign at 1-800-505-CRIB. Back to Sleep is a joint effort of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the SIDS Alliance, and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs.

Additional information is available from the websites of the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org/, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/sids.hm and the Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www. cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtm199/99091.html.

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