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Pediatric Health

Far Too Many Babies are Dying in Indiana

A Message for Parents and Caregivers on Unintentional Suffocation

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Most recent data for Indiana, for a three-year period, reflects 60.8 percent of infant deaths under one year of age were attributed to unintentional suffocation.

TOP 3 Messages for New and Expectant Parents, Grandparents and Those Caring for Infants

1. Babies need to sleep on their backs for EVERY sleep—at nighttime and naptime. Many people believe that babies will more easily choke if they are on their backs. It's a myth: When infants are lying on their back the trachea (wind pipe) is located above the esophagus (food pipe). If your baby spits up, liquid has to go against gravity to end up in the trachea and choke them. The opposite is true for an infant on his stomach because, at that point, the trachea is located below the esophagus. Now, when your baby spits, gravity pulls it to the lowest opening—the trachea. Sleeping on the stomach makes it much easier for your baby to choke. (See Diagram)

2. Create a safe sleep space. Babies should have their own, separate sleep surface—an approved crib, bassinette, or play yard placed near parent's bed. An infant's sleep area should have a firm mattress with only a tight, fitted sheet. Remember, adult beds are not made with infant safety in mind. Today, many adult mattresses have pillow tops or are made with memory foam. Infant's sleep area should have a firm mattress with only a fitted sheet.

3. Nothing but Baby. Crib should be free of pillows, blankets, toys, positioners and bumper pads. Babies may roll into these items and suffocate. Use a sleep sack (wearable blanket) or a blanket sleeper in place of loose blankets or covers. Another option is to layer baby's clothing with a t-shirt and socks under their sleeper.

TOP 3 Reasons Parents, Grandparents, and Caregivers Do Not Follow American Academy Pediatrics (AAP) Recommendations:

1. Not everyone understands the importance of the safe sleep message. It is not always stressed that back sleeping and avoiding soft bedding is important and we tend to parent the way our parents parented. If we are used to our families babies sleeping on their tummies with fluffy blankets, we are more likely to follow that practice.

2. "It won't happen to my baby." There is a false sense of security when you bed-share once and everything is okay. This may establish a pattern with the belief that since nothing bad happened, that practice is safe. We know that where a baby sleeps the first 24-48 hours after they come home is generally where the baby will continue to sleep.

3. "My baby doesn't like sleeping on his back." \We frequently hear new parents make this comment. Sleep position is a learned behavior. Babies will adjust to sleeping on their backs if you start placing them on their backs for EVERY sleep episode. Think of your own pregnancy and how you may have learned to adjust your sleep position.

Won't you join our efforts and share these safe sleep practices with everyone you know? "Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play!" and "Room Sharing is Safer than Bed Sharing"

For more information contact barb.himes@firstcandle.org or 317-725-3754.
Barb Himes, CLC is the National Crib Campaign Project Director for First Candle/National SIDS Alliance and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Infant Loss Coordinator for the Indiana Perinatal Network.

Tags: Health, Infant & Baby, Maternity

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