By Renee Fox, M.D.Mary McCaffrey, MSN, RNC-OB, CNS-BC, CNS
UMMC Women’s Services
Last year, there were 128 deaths of Baltimore City children under one year of age. Of those deaths, 26 were sleep related, and likely preventable. This is a tragedy not only for the families affected, but for entire neighborhoods and for the city as a whole. These children could have been our future teachers, firefighters, doctors, nurses or community leaders.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. African American babies are two times more likely to die from SIDS, and Native American babies are three times more likely to die from SIDS than white babies. Most of these deaths occur between two to four months of age. SIDS has also been called “crib death” as many of the babies are found in their crib, but cribs do not cause SIDS.
What You Need to Know
All young babies are at risk of dying while they sleep, but there are things you can do to reduce your baby’s risk. Most of these deaths are preventable.
What You Can Do
Put your baby to sleep safely EVERY TIME he or she goes to bed at night or for a nap. There are three things to remember:
- Alone: Most sleep-related deaths occur when babies sleep with an adult or another child, or in an adult bed or on a sofa. Share your room with your baby, but not your bed.
- Back: Babies are more likely to die of SIDS if they are placed to sleep on their stomach or side. The safest position for a baby to sleep is on his or her back. Experts know that babies are not as likely to choke while lying on their backs. In fact, when a baby is on its stomach, anything spit up can block the air pipe and cause choking or breathing problems.
- Crib: Your baby’s sleeping place should be clean and clear. No blankets, pillows, fluffy toys or stuffed animals. Just put a tight-fitting sheet on a firm mattress. Your baby can wear a sleeper if it is cold.
You can also use a pacifier to calm your baby and help him or her go to sleep. Research suggests that pacifiers help reduce risk too.
For more information, please visit http://www.healthybabiesbaltimore.com/home.