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Sudden infant deaths mystery

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POSTED: August 9, 2007 5:03 a.m.
I can only imagine the horror of going to check on your baby or grandbaby to discover him dead and to never understand why this occurred. Yet this happens to one baby every hour of every day and it happens without warning in families of all races, ethnic and socio-economic origins and to seemingly very healthy babies.
Suddan infant death syndrome appears totally unpredictable to physicians and parents and leaves grief, sadness and vulnerability that will always grip the family.
 SIDS is responsible for more deaths than any other cause in childhood for babies one month to one year of age, with most SIDS deaths happening when babies are between the ages of 2 to 4 months.
Researchers do know that SIDS is not contagious, is not caused by vomiting and choking or by external suffocation. It does not cause pain or suffering in the infant and it is not a new problem. There are references to its existence in the Old Testament (Kings 3:19) of the Bible.
Although health care providers don’t know what causes SIDS, they do know certain things can help reduce the risk. They are:
Keep babies in a smoke-free environment. Studies show that a baby’s risk of SIDS rises with each additional smoker in the household, with the number of cigarettes smoked around him each day, and with the length of his exposure to cigarette smoke. And almost every study of risk factors for SIDS has identified smoking during pregnancy as a risk factor.
Always place babies on their backs to sleep. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. Placing your baby on his or her back to sleep is the number one way to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Use the back sleep position every time. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS. So it is important for babies to sleep on their backs every time, for naps and at night.
 Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress, covered with a fitted sheet. Never place a baby to sleep on a pillow, quilt, sheepskin or other soft surface.
 Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area. Don’t use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, or pillow-like bumpers in your baby’s sleep area. Keep all items away from the baby’s face.
Several studies link soft sleeping surfaces to a higher risk of SIDS. Quilts, comforters, sofas, waterbeds, beanbags and other soft surfaces are all unsafe for a baby to sleep on. Like tummy-down sleep positions, soft surfaces increase the chance that your baby will encounter problems with breathing or overheating.
• Avoid letting your baby overheat during sleep. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. There’s strong evidence that becoming overheated can substantially raise a baby’s risk of SIDS.
Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing your baby down to sleep, but don’t force the baby to take it. If you’re breastfeeding, wait until your child is 1 month old, or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.
 

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