Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of a child under age 1. sts_banner_logo The death cannot be explained after an investigation has been conducted, including an autopsy, examination of the place of the death, and a review of the child’s medical history. SIDS is the leading cause of death of an infants under age 1 and is the third leading cause of overall of infant mortality in the United States.  Although we have seen a significant decline in SIDS deaths – more than 50% since 1990 – the  Center for Disease Control reports that rates for non-Hispanics and American Indian/Alaska Native infants remains disproportionately higher than the rest of other racial/ethnic groups.

The “Safe to Sleep” campaign has contributed immensely to the public’s awareness, and in turn has reduced the rates of sudden infant death syndrome .  Public Health advocates throughout the country and here in Boston continue to make this a priority, advancing knowledge and education to include a campaign on infant “Safe Sleep Environments.”

To reduce the risk of SIDS, follow the recommendations for a safe sleep environment:

    • Always place your baby on his or her back for naps and at night
    • Use firm sleep surfaces, covered by a fitted sheet.
    • Keep soft objects such as toys and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area
    • Offer you baby a clean, dry pacifier when placing your baby to sleep
    • Keep your baby’s sleep area close to you, but separate
    • Do not smoke during pregnancy or allow smoking around you baby
    • Do not let your baby get too hot while sleeping. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult
    • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk for SIDS
    • Follow health care provider guidance on your baby’s vaccines and have regular checkups
    • Breast feed if possible

Also, remember Tummy Time is important. Tummy Time will strengthen your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles and reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head.  Your child should only have Tummy Time when he or she is awake and you are able to closely monitor the activity, usually for about 15 minutes, twice daily.

Unfortunately, no matter what steps parents take to protect their babies, SIDS is a reality for more than 2,000 families each year. The loss of a baby is extremely difficult , which is why our Healthy Baby/Healthy Child collaborates with the Massachusetts Center for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/The Massachusetts Center for Infant and Child Death Bereavement Program, located at the Boston Medical Center to provide services for families who have recently suffered from a loss. Our nurses and social workers provide bereavement counseling, information, and linkage to parents support groups for families in Boston whose babies and young children (0-3 years) have died suddenly and unexpectedly. The services are available up to one year after the death. To learn more, call (617) 534-5832 or (800) 711-1180.

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