Pediatric Associates of Alexander City (PAAC) has recently sponsored a safe sleep education project to help parents and other caregivers reduce the high incidence of deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Overall, SIDS is the leading cause of death in all infants under 1 year of age, and most SIDS deaths occur between the ages of 2 and 4 months. During 2017, in Alabama 111 infants died from sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment. Alabama continues to have one of the highest SIDS rates in the nation.
Research has shown placing babies to sleep on their backs dramatically reduces the incidence of SIDS. “SIDS is a community problem,” PAAC nurse practitioner Ann Lambert said. “We must come together to help educate one another about the steps we can take to reduce the number of babies who will die from this syndrome.”
The project is designed to teach mothers about the best way to keep their babies safes during sleep. This effort is utilizing educational materials of the national Safe Sleep campaign, sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents were also provided information using the children’s book “Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug.” The board book is typical of infant books, professionally illustrated and features ethnic diversity. The book incorporates the guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A simple list of do’s and don’ts for safe sleep are listed on the back cover.
Most babies are born healthy and stay that way as they grow. Healthcare providers and researchers don’t know the exact cause of SIDS. However, research shows parents and caregivers can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
The following risk reduction practices can help reduce your concern about SIDS so you and your family can enjoy your new baby.
• Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night.
• Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety -approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.
• Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.
• Do not allow smoking around your baby.
• Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.
• Think about using a pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep.
• Do not let your baby overheat during sleep.
• Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS.
• Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS, unless prescribed by your doctor.
• Reduce the chance flat spots will develop on your baby’s head with supervised “tummy time.”
• Get good healthcare before and during pregnancy.
• Breastfeed your baby if possible.
• Take your baby for scheduled well--baby check-ups and shots.
PAAC, along with other partners including Russell Medical and Auburn University School of Nursing, is working to reduce the risk of SIDS in the local communities. Residents can help by talking about SIDS and increasing community awareness then talking to their friends and family about risk reduction. Every new person who learns about safe infant sleep is one more person who can promote safe sleep guidelines. No family should ever experience the pain of waking up to the loss of their child.