3 Resources for Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Posted October 25, 2016 by Josh Grant

Infant Sleeping On Back
Safe sleep practices are crucial for preventing SIDS.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the fourth leading cause of infant mortalityExternal Link in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During SIDS Awareness Month in October, healthcare systems, government agencies and public health organizations are reaching out to providers and parents to educate them on what they can do to better protect infants.

As part of the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), NICHQ is working with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to ensure that adequate systems are available for preventing SIDS. Through continuous testing and implementation of evidenced-based best practices, the goal is to create safe, healthy environments while the shockingly high infant mortality rate in the U.S.

To help advance awareness for SIDS, we’ve compiled three resources for healthcare practitioners and parents on creating safe environments for newborns and infants.

Dispelling Common Myths
Safe to Sleep, an awareness campaign run by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is separating SIDS facts from fictionExternal Link for the public. Because SIDS is a difficult healthcare concern to define, a number of myths have sprung up around it, including that it’s a disease or infection that a child could catch. By distilling basic information and correcting common misconceptions, Safe to Sleep is ensuring that caregivers know how to best protect against SIDS.

Safe Sleep Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics published its expanded guidelines for safe-sleep environments in 2011 to combat SIDS and other sleep-related infant deathsExternal Link. The additional recommendations were created after a decrease in SIDS cases plateaued after a few years. Not only is this resource for parents, but it also includes plans and strategies for healthcare providers on how to address SIDS within their facilities and the appropriate procedures to implement in cases of infant mortality. Safe sleep recommendations specifically include breastfeeding as well as behaviors that promote both breastfeeding as well as safe sleepExternal Link, such as skin-to-skin care and room sharing without bed sharing. 

Answers to Key Questions
Eileen Tyrala, MD, FAAP, the medical director of CribsForKids, answers questions from parents and healthcare providersExternal Link about SIDS on her organization’s website. These questions provide specific examples that some best practices would not address, and Dr. Tyrala answers with general information that applies to a host of different cases. Proving how evidence-backed strategies can reduce SIDS in everyday situations can help ensure that more people start following best practices.

SIDS is preventable through the implementation of tested practices and strategies. With efforts like SIDS Awareness Month and resources such as the ones above, we can help infants sleep safely and healthily.

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