October 2010October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. It is an opportunity to learn how to reduce the risk of SIDS and unintentional injury while an infant is sleeping by promoting Safe Sleep.
The Government of Canada is committed to working with its partners to raise awareness of SIDS and to educate Canadians on how to create safe sleep environments. SIDS refers to the sudden death of an infant of less than one year of age, which remains unexplained even after a full investigation. In Canada, many jurisdictions now use the broader term Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) which includes SIDS and infant deaths from unintentional injury, enabling a better understanding of the risks associated with unsafe infant sleep environments. Examples of unsafe sleep environments include an infant sleeping on a couch or an infant sleeping in a cluttered crib.
Since the launch of Safe Sleep campaigns in Canada, surveys have shown that parental awareness of the need to place infants on their backs to sleep has increased substantially. Largely due to Back to Sleep initiatives, this practice has contributed to the 50 per cent decrease in the rate of SIDS observed in Canada between 1999 and 2004.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recently released the Safe Sleep for Your Baby parent brochure. This new brochure recommends that parents and child care providers adopt the following four practices to create a safe sleep environment for babies:
- Provide a smoke free environment - both before and after birth
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep - night time and nap time
- Place your baby to sleep in a crib next to the adult's bed for the first six months
- Provide a safe crib environment that has no toys or loose bedding (use only a fitted sheet)
In addition, Health Canada will undertake a multi-year project on safe infant sleep to raise awareness of SIDS in First Nations and Inuit communities. This project will build on the success of the national Back to Sleep campaign through a culturally-relevant and community-based approach.
I encourage all expectant and new parents, their families and friends, and child care providers to become familiar with the risks associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and to learn about how to create safe sleep environments for babies.
For more information about safe sleep environments please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada or read A Baby's Safe Sleep Environment brochure. Additional information on SIDS and creating a safe sleep environment for infants is available through the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.
Minister of Health
Government of Canada