Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Michael McQueen, MD, neonatologist, is the medical director of Women & Infant Services at Banner Estrella Medical Center. His office can be reached 602-476-8962.
Question: I recently read that new guidelines were released for the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Can you explain these new guidelines and how they help prevent SIDS?
Answer: Although rare, the mere fact that sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, even exists is understandably concerning for new parents and those caring for newborns.
Reports of SIDS have been cut in half during the last 20 years, but there is still work to be done. In October 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new recommendations aimed toward further decreasing the risk of SIDS and promoting safe sleep in infants.
The three major recommendations that have been added to the updated guidelines address vaccinations, breast-feeding, and crib bedding.
Studies have demonstrated that infants who are kept up-to-date with their immunizations have less chance of SIDS than babies who are not immunized. Experts have also found that breast-feeding, in any amount, reduces the risk of SIDS. Exclusively breast-feeding for the first six months of a baby’s life appears to provide the greatest protection.
Interestingly, studies have shown that pacifier use is associated with a decreased incidence of SIDS as well – so even though exclusively breast-feeding is recommended, consider offering the infant a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
The issue of bumper pads in cribs also is addressed in the new guidelines. Due to their potential to cause suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment, it is now recommended that bumper pads, as well as other loose items (blankets, stuffed toys, etc.), not be placed in the crib. Instead, think simple. A baby’s crib should really only include a firm mattress covered with a fitted sheet. It’s also important that the mattress fits snuggly into the crib, leaving no gaps between the mattress and the side of the crib.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the SIDS guidelines or the general health of your child, do not hesitate to contact your child’s health care provider.