October 30, 2012

October Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Month

October is winding down, but it is still important to highlight one of the causes revolved around this month–Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, otherwise known as SIDS.

According to nonprofit First Candle, SIDS affects over a number of parents. In particular, stillborn babies may be the result of miscarriages or other factors of infant death. The organization believes that it important to showcase the difficulties that can come along with infant health and survival.

“It is our goal at First Candle to make it possible for every baby to celebrate not only their first birthday, but many happy birthdays beyond,” explained Kelly Mariotti, CEO of First Candle, in a prepared statement. “By ensuring that all parents and caregivers have access to important information that will help keep their baby healthy and safe, we stand to gain the most at impacting our nation’s alarmingly high rates of infant mortality.”

The organization stated that SIDS is still the top cause of death for infants who are between the ages of one month to one year. More and more infants are dying as a result of SIDS and over 130,000 stillbirth deaths happen unexpectedly close to or at full-term. SIDS can affect children of both genders; while 60 percent of SIDS victims are male, 40 percent SIDS victims are female. As a result, First Candle and other groups have partnered with businesses and other nonprofits to spread the message of infant death and to bring awareness to the issue.

“It is clear that lifesaving messages are not reaching all communities and all populations,” continued Mariotti in the statement. “With improved education alone, we know we can save many more precious lives.”

There are a number of ways in which parents and caregivers can prevent stillbirth. In particular, pregnant women should not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs. They should also contact their doctors if there is any vaginal bleeding, leakage, or sharp pain.

As for SIDS prevention, there are a number of recommendations as well. For one, babies should always be placed on their backs when going to sleep; side and tummy sleep position are not considered safe. Furthermore, individuals should not fall asleep with a baby on a sofa or in an adult bed. Baby cribs or bassinets should have a firm mattress that fits snuggly and has a tight-fitting crib sheet covering it. To help infants in their first year, a pacifier should be used during naptime and nighttime. Apart from sleeping positions, it is recommended that babies be not exposed to second-hand smoke when they are born.

For caregivers, parents, and health care professionals who are interested in learning more about SIDS, First Candle runs a crisis hotline for families who are impacted by the death of an infant. The organization also provides bereavement kits and support counselors.

There are a number of ways in which individuals can contribute to the awareness month. On the First Candle website, the organization provides an awareness month proclamation. With this proclamation, individuals can write letters to a state governor or senator. Apart from writing an awareness letter, people can look into working with local organizations to promote the issue.

Image Credit: Angela Luchianiuc / Shutterstock

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