SIDS Risk Reduction Continuing Education
Program Emphasizes Important Role of Nurses in Health Care
The National Institutes of Health has created a continuing education
program designed to help nurses communicate the risk factors for
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) to parents and child caregivers.
Nurses are a key information resource for new parents and often
spend the most time with families in the hospital following the
birth of a child.
The Continuing Education Program on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
(SIDS) Risk Reduction was developed by the NIH’s National Institute
of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Institute
of Nursing Research (NINR) in collaboration with national nursing
and health organizations. The program reviews the most current
research findings and theories about SIDS and provides nurses with
practical approaches to communication about SIDS in a multi-cultural
Although SIDS deaths have declined since the NICHD initiated the
SIDS risk reduction Back to Sleep campaign, it remains the leading
cause of death in U.S. infants between one month and one year of
age. By consistently placing infants on their backs to sleep and
using other safe sleep practices, nurses serve as role models to
convey proven risk-reduction techniques.
"Nurses who care for infants and families in the hospital are
in a unique position to educate parents and influence health and
safety practices," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the
NICHD, the NIH institute distributing the program materials. "This
curriculum provides proven strategies that nurses can communicate
to parents, families, and caregivers to help them reduce the risk
The curriculum was developed by the NICHD and the NINR in partnership
with a number of national organizations, including First Candle/SIDS
Alliance; the Academy of Neonatal Nursing; the American College
of Nurse Midwives; the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality
Programs; the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal
Nurses; the March of Dimes; the National Alaska Native/American
Indian Nurses Association; the National Association of Neonatal
Nurses; the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners;
the Society of Pediatric Nursing; and the Washington State Department
"We know that even a brief intervention on the part of nurses
can have an impact on parents’ behaviors," said NINR director
Patricia Grady, Ph.D. "This CE module is unique in that it
reviews the most current research about SIDS but also provides
nurses with a variety of answers to many of the most typical questions
new parents ask about safe sleeping."
The curriculum is approved for 1.1 contact hours of continuing
education credit from the Maryland Nurses Association, which is
accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission
on Accreditation to provide continuing education. This two-session
program includes lessons on the following information:
- Understanding SIDS: The lesson defines SIDS, estimates its
prevalence, and its possible physiological causes.
- Understanding SIDS Risk: This lesson looks at dangers in the
sleep environment that put infants at higher risk of SIDS.
- Reducing SIDS Risk: This lesson presents factors that can reduce
the risk of SIDS, such as placing infants on their backs to sleep
for naps and at night, and provides risk-reduction recommendations.
- Nurses as Role Models for Parents: The lesson explains research
findings related to nurses’ importance as role models for parents
and as a primary source of health information.
- Challenges to SIDS Risk Reduction: This lesson addresses cultural
and societal factors that may affect compliance with SIDS risk-reduction
- Communicating about SIDS Risk Reduction: This lesson offers
suggestions on how to discuss SIDS with families and provides
answers to common questions about SIDS and sleep position.
Nurses can order a hard copy or download an electronic version
of the continuing education booklet through the NICHD’s Web site,
at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sidsnursesce/, or by calling 1-800-370-2943.
The NICHD and its partners are also working to develop an interactive
online version of the program, which should be available toward
the end of 2007.
The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth;
maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population
issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit
the Institute’s Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.