SIDS Prevention: What You Should Know
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death, is a source of fear for many new parents.
SIDS is a sudden death in infants younger than a year old that currently has no known cause, even with a thorough investigation. “SIDS is the leading cause of death for children between one month and a year old,” said Dr. Maria Cristina Soriano, a pediatrician at CHI St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network Pediatrics in Bryan. “While there is no test or monitoring system that can accurately predict SIDS, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of SIDS.”
Back to Sleep
In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched its Back to Sleep Program to address SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Since the start of the campaign, which is now called Safe to Sleep®, SIDS rates in the United States have decreased by almost 50% overall and within various racial and ethnic groups.
The AAP recommends the following:
Lay your baby on his or her back for every sleep: “Side sleeping isn’t ideal, because babies can flip on their stomachs and suffocate,” said Dr. Soriano. “Sleeping on the back is safe even for babies with reflux because of their intact gag reflex.” Dr. Soriano recommends continuing to place your infant on their back when putting them to sleep until they are one-year-old.
Use a firm sleep surface: Use a firm mattress covered with a tight-fitting sheet in a safety-approved crib or bassinet. A firm mattress maintains its shape and doesn’t create an indention when the baby lies on it. “Avoid memory foam because it can create a pocket that can cause suffocation when the infant rolls over,” Dr. Soriano said.
Continue breastfeeding for as long as possible: Consider continuing to breastfeed your baby for at least six months, as studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce your child’s risk of SIDS.
Share a room with your baby while sleeping on a separate surface: Research shows that sleeping in the parent’s room can reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS by 50%. “Place the crib or bassinet close to your bed, so you can have a better view of the baby and easily feed, comfort, and monitor the baby,” said Dr. Soriano.
Keep soft objects and loose bedding away from the infant’s sleep area: Dr. Soriano recommends against using blankets, soft toys, bumpers, and pillows because these objects can potentially cause suffocation or strangulation.
Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime: While the mechanism isn’t yet clear, studies have shown that pacifier use has a protective effect against SIDS. “For breastfeeding moms, establish breastfeeding before offering the pacifier,” said Dr. Soriano. “This usually happens between two to three weeks.”
Avoid overheating: “There is no set room temperature that can prevent overheating,” said Dr. Soriano. “Ideally, the infant should not be over-bundled, and you shouldn’t cover the head and face.”
Encourage supervised awake tummy-time: Tummy-time prevents flattening of the back of the head and also helps with the infant’s upper body strength.
One of your best resources for SIDS protection is your child’s pediatrician. Find a CHI St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network pediatrician near you by calling (979) 774-2121 or visiting CHI.TAMUHealth.org.