Solano Coalition for Better Health: Hoping to prevent SIDS – Vallejo Times Herald
Did you know that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, defined as the sudden and unexplained death of an infant, is the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age in the United States? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,000 infants in the United States die every year as a result of SIDS, including some in Solano County. But parents can reduce the risk of SIDS by creating a healthy environment for their babies and following safe sleep guidelines.
What We Know About SIDS
The cause of SIDS is not completely understood. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Institute of Health, the leading theories suggest that infants who die of SIDS may have an underlying vulnerability, such as a genetic pattern or brain abnormality. When these babies are exposed to other risk factors at an early stage of development, it may be enough to cause SIDS. Possible risk factors include an unsafe sleeping position, unsafe sleeping environment, exposure to secondhand smoke, infection, or other types of stress.
There is no way to predict whether an infant may die as a result of SIDS. However, here are some of the recommendations for risk reduction published by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
First and foremost, pediatricians recommend that parents and caregivers place infants on their backs to sleep. Though tempting, car seats should not be used for sleep, as young infants do not breathe as well in the sitting position. However, car seats should still be used for safe car travel.
A safe sleep environment can reduce the risk of SIDS. Infants should sleep on a firm mattress covered only by a fitted sheet. Cribs should also have no soft objects or accessories, including pillows, blankets, toys, and crib bumpers. To stay warm, infants can wear a “sleeper” instead of using a blanket. Additionally, parents can share a room with infants, but should avoid bed sharing altogether.
A healthy lifestyle can also reduce the risk of SIDS. Parents and caregivers shouldn’t smoke around a baby or allow anyone else to do so. Pregnant woman should avoid alcohol and drugs during pregnancy and after birth. Breast-feeding is highly recommended.
Finally, regular doctor’s visits are important for the health of both mother and baby. Regular prenatal care helps make sure babies are healthy before they are born, and allows for early detection of any health problems. After they are born, infants should receive all immunizations and well-child checks.
It Takes a Village
Parents, families, and communities can do their part in reducing the risk and ensuring their infants sleep safely, grow up in healthy environments, and receive the care they need to thrive. In acknowledgement of October 2017 as national SIDS Awareness Month, the Solano County Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Bureau will provide SIDS-related information, education, and resources.
To learn more about SIDS, contact Solano County SIDS Coordinator Mariejoy Supapo at (707) 784-8070. If you or someone you know is interested in seeking support services following a possible SIDS loss, contact Loretta Calloway at (707) 784-8544. For breast-feeding assistance and support, contact Alyssa Perry at (707) 784-2137. If you or someone you know needs help finding prenatal care, call the MCAH Toll-Free Line at (877) 680-2229.
Kristine Lalic is a Health Education Specialist at the Maternal Child & Adolescent Health Bureau of Solano County Health & Social Services, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.