SIDS Awareness Month

With the nearly 3,400 sudden and unexpected infant
deaths each year in the United States, most are a result from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. And sadly, SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants between one month and one year of age.

We can do something about this! Although health care providers and researchers don’t know the exact causes of SIDS and other sleep-related sudden unexpected infant deaths, what we do know are methods to help reduce the risk. Here are a few easy steps to help reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep for every sleep.
  • Use a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Have the baby share your room, not your bed. A baby should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch, or on a chair alone, with you, or with anyone else.
  • Keep soft objects such as pillows, toys, crib bumpers and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.
  • Prevent exposure to smoking during pregnancy and after birth because these are important risk factors for SIDS. The risk of SIDS is even stronger when a baby shares a bed with a smoker.

Although the SIDS rate for African Americans has declined by 50 percent since 1994, today’s African American infants are twice as likely as Caucasian infants to die of SIDS. Similarly, American Indian/Alaska Native infants today are three times as likely as Caucasian infants to die of SIDS, even though SIDS rates have also dropped significantly in this population during the last two decades.

Locally in Hamilton County, too many babies die before their first birthday. The county is ranked among the bottom 10 percent of counties across the nation for infant mortality. Experts say we must invest in changing three things about our community—the three S’s: smoking, spacing, and sleep. To help prevent prematurity one should increase the amount of time between pregnancies, reduce tobacco use in pregnancy, and promote safe sleep for babies.

To increase awareness of SIDS, Cradle Cincinnati, in partnership with Charlie’s Kids and UC Health, is asking everyone to post a picture of an infant sleeping safely (following the ABC’s of safe sleep) with #IAmSafeSleep during the month of October, which is Safe Sleep Awareness Month. Please visit cradlecincinnati.org to learn more.

For all you soon-to-be moms, remember there are things you can do now to increase your chances of a healthy baby. Remember to schedule and go to all prenatal visits, do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs while pregnant or after birth and stay away from smokers and places where people smoke.

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