NICHD Alerts Parents to Winter SIDS Risk and Updated AAP Recommendations
During cold weather, parents often place extra blankets or clothes on their infants to provide additional warmth. That places an infant at an increased risk of SIDS.
Schmalfeldt: Parents have been hearing it for years—the term "back to sleep", meaning that when you place your infant in his or her crib for a nap or for the night, you lower the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when you place the child on his or her back. Yet, during the winter and periods of cold weather, there's something else care givers need to keep in mind, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. During cold weather, parents often place extra blankets or clothes on their infants to provide additional warmth. According to Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Deputy Director of the NICHD, these parents are unknowingly increasing their child's risk of SIDS.
Maddox: What we have learned is that in fact this extra material, this extra clothing, actually increases the risk for SIDS. We also advocate that healthy children should be placed on their backs to sleep. So we're talking about two things here: remembering that "back sleeping" is best, it's the preferred method of putting one's child down to sleep when they're an infant, and of course the idea of not overdressing them, overcovering them during the winter months.
Schmalfeldt: For more than a decade, NICHD has been at the forefront of the "Back to Sleep" campaign—details of which can be found on the institute's web site. Since the campaign began in 1994, the overall SIDS rate has declined by more than 50 percent. In addition to this alert from NICHD, the American Academy of Pediatrics has also updated its recommendations for reducing the risk of SIDS. They include always placing an infant on his or her back for sleep, for naps and at night, placing the baby on a firm sleep surface such as a safety-approved crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet, keeping soft objects such as toys and loose bedding out of the baby's sleep area, not allowing smoking around the baby, keeping the baby's sleep area close to—but separate from—where parents and others sleep, offering a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant on his or her back to sleep, and not allowing the baby to become overheated while sleeping. They also recommend avoiding products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS, and not relying on home monitors to reduce that risk. Parents concerned that flat spots will develop on a child's head from lying on its back are encouraged to provide what's being called "tummy time" when the baby is awake and someone is watching, as well as changing the direction the baby lies in the crib and avoiding too much time in car seats, carriers and bouncers. The NICHD offers a variety of free "Back to Sleep" educational materials. For more info, visit the web site www.nichd.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Yvonne Maddox