Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: WEAU 13 News Staff Email

(WEAU) - It's October and that means its Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month.

Dr. Alicia Arnold sat down WEAU’s Courtney Everett to talk more about this topic.

CE: Can you define sudden infant death syndrome for us?

AA: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SID, is the sudden death of an infant less than one year old that can't be explained even after a thorough investigation.

CE: How frequently does this occur?

AA: There are about 4,000 infant deaths every year without an immediately evident cause. About half of these are reported as SIDS. Others are due to causes such as infections, heart arrhythmias, and accidental suffocation, which is the leading cause of infant injury death.

CE: Are infants more at risk at any particular age?

AA: Most SIDS deaths occur when the child is between 2-4 months old and the vast majority happens before 6 months of age.

CE: What are some ways that parents can help make the baby's sleeping environment safer?

AA: The medical community doesn't know all the factors that could lead to SIDS so there is no known way to prevent all deaths. Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Baby should sleep on a firm surface. Don't have loose blankets or bumpers in the child's crib. Consider using a pacifier, but don't attach it to your child's clothes. Also, don't let the baby overheat.

CE: How about other lifestyle changes?

AA: Don't smoke while pregnant or allow any smoking around your baby. Regular pre-natal care and well-child visits with standard vaccinations are also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. There is evidence that breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS.

CE: How about co-sleeping in the parent's bed?

AA: Statistics indicate that many SIDS deaths may be from unsafe sleep practices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bed sharing. This sleeping arrangement may reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%, and further prevent the accidental suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment that may occur if an infant is sleeping in an adult's bed. On a related note, co-sleeping on couches and armchairs can also bring a high risk of SIDS and suffocation, and should be avoided.

CE: Any other tips for parents?

AA: Be sure to let relatives and caregivers know that your baby should be placed on his or her back to sleep. Recommendations have changed over the years and some people might not be up-to-date, so take the extra moment to make sure that everyone is on the same page with safe sleeping recommendations.

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