October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month, a time to educate parents, grandparents, caregivers, and family members about the risk factors associated with SIDS.
On November 23, 2001, my family suffered the devastating loss of my grandson, Brian K. Sargent, to SIDS. He was six weeks old. SIDS Awareness is a personal cause to our family and we hope to be able to comfort other families and to make parents and caregivers aware in hopes of prevention.
Facts about SIDS in the Washington, DC Area:
• Infant mortality rate is 15 deaths per 1,000 live births (twice the national rate of 7.1)
• SIDS rate is also double the national rate (approximately 120 per 100,000 live births each year)
In 2006:• 9 babies died from SIDS in DC
• 90 babies died in Virginia
• 64 babies died in Maryland
Terry Rainey, a resident of the DC Metropolitan area, said this about his experience of losing an infant son to SIDS:
“I lost my son Joe in November of 1996, and every day I feel the pain of that loss. There are no easy answers, just some very tough questions, when one faces such a tragedy. Through the help of family and friends, I have come to appreciate Joe's eight months of life as a gift. Also I greatly value the efforts of the SIDS Alliance in helping thousands of other parents who have lost loved ones. With the strides that have been made in SIDS awareness and research, I am hopeful that we will see the day that no parent will lose a child to SIDS.”
Babies who are placed to sleep on their stomachs or sides are at higher risk for SIDS than babies who are placed on their backs to sleep. African-American babies are more than two times as likely to die of SIDS as Caucasian babies. American-Indian/Alaska Native babies are nearly three times as likely to die of SIDS as Caucasian babies.
The preliminary infant mortality rate for 2007 was 6.77 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, a 1.2 percent increase from the 2006 rate of 6.69, though not considered statistically significant. Birth defects were the leading cause of infant death in 2007, followed by disorders related to preterm birth and low birth weight. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was the third leading cause of infant death in the United States. -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID): Reducing the Risk
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of SIDS for infants:
• Babies should always sleep on their back.
• Place baby on his/her back to sleep at night time and naptime.
• Babies shouldn’t sleep on their side. They may roll to face down position.
• Every baby should sleep in his/her own crib.
• Place baby on a firm mattress in a safety approved crib.
• Remove all fluffy and loose bedding from the sleep area. The only thing in the crib should be the baby.
• Make sure baby’s head and face stay uncovered during sleep.
• Use blanket sleepers instead of blankets during colder months.
• Babies from birth to age 6 months should sleep in the same room with their parents.
• Babies should not sleep on the same sleep surface with their parents.
• Bring the baby into your bed for cuddling and feeding, but return the baby to his/her crib when you are ready to go back to sleep.
• Temperature in home should be 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
• Don’t let baby get too warm during sleep.
• Use pacifiers at naptime and bedtime during the first year, but not during the first month for breast-fed babies. -Children's National Medical Center Washington, DC © 2009
First Candle/SIDS Alliance is a national nonprofit health organization uniting parents, caregivers and researchers nationwide with government, business and community service groups to advance infant health and survival. With help from a national network of member and partner organizations, First Candle is working to increase public participation and support in the fight against infant mortality.
Important Resources for parents and caregivers:
The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Foundation of Washington
Follow SIDS Resource Center on Twitter
National Healthy Start Association Toolkit Resource Center Web site at the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, Georgetown University © Georgetown University
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Rise in Infant Suffocations Renews Debate On Bed-Sharing By Rob Stein ©2009 The Washington Post Company
Why is SIDS More Common in African American Populations?
Halo Sleep Sack -The Safer Way to Sleep®
Air Force Veteran Invents SIDS Prevention Device © Copyright 2003-2009 I-Newswire
Hospital will promote SIDS awareness in October © 2009 The-Dispatch.com
Back to Sleep Campaign and the Healthy Child Care America Campaign. © AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
Of things unseene how canst thou deeme aright,
Then answered the righteous Artegall ,
Sith thou misdeem'st so much of things in sight?
What though the sea with waves continuall
Doe eate the earth, it is no more at all:
Ne is the earth the lesse, or loseth ought,
For whatsoeuer from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.
-The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
Book V Canto II stanza 39
Orignially written and published in 2009 for the Examiner.com site