Studying more than 25 years worth of data, researchers have determined that simple steps can reduce the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. According to the official data supplied by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3,500 infants die each year due to SIDS.
However, the project, which was initiated by Doctor Marian Willinger and her team from the National Institute of Child Health and Development, shows that even though these figures might seem high, they are, in fact, much smaller compared to those from 25 years ago.
More specifically, in 1992, as a response to the spike in SIDS-related deaths, the “Back to Sleep” campaign was initiated. Through this simple awareness campaign, pediatricians such as Dr. Willinger and others have taught parents that simple steps can reduce the risk of SIDS.
For example, the simplest step to decrease the chance of SIDS-related death is to ensure that the infant is put to sleep laying on his back, rather than his stomach or side. It may seem like a thing born out of common sense, but according to nationwide phone survey taken in 1993, no more than 16.3 percent put their children to bed on their backs.
Thirteen years apart, the campaign’s attempts to educate parents about the dangers of SIDS paid off. As of 2006, more than 76 percent of parents put their children to sleep on their backs.
In addition, there are other factors that may increase the risk of SIDS. For instance, the sleeping environment has also been ruled out as being a risk factor. Pediatricians have observed that sleeping environments containing loose beddings or infant toys such as stuffed animals may increase the odds of asphyxiation.
Furthermore, bed-sharing and adult’s fatigue are also variables which were taken into account. The team has observed that parents woken up during the nighttime have the tendency of changing the infant’s position, putting them on their stomachs or sides.
Thus, to further deter the incidence SIDS-related deaths, the AAP has come up with a couple of guidelines for young parents. Below, you will find the most important of them.
- Infants should be put to sleep on their backs until they reach the age of one year.
- The infant’s cradle should be placed inside the parents’ bedroom.
- Put the infant to sleep only on a firm You can cover it with a simple sheet, but avoid placing any unnecessary bedding or stuffed animals.
- Breastfeeding is highly encouraged.
- Parents should also consider offering their infants a pacifier during bedtime.
- Refrain from putting the infant to sleep on couches or armchairs.
- Avoid bed-sharing as it increases the risk of asphyxiation.
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke during pregnancy and after giving birth.
- Refrain from excessive head covering and exposing the infant to unnecessary heat.
- Immunize your infant.
- Avoid using cardiorespiratory monitoring systems.
These simple steps can reduce the risk of SIDS are easy to follow by any parent, regardless of experience. For more information about SIDS, we advise you to consult your pediatrician.
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