As we observe SIDS Awareness Month around the world and International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th, it is important for moms, dads and caregivers to consider the steps they can take to reduce SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), SUID (Sudden Unexplained Infant Death) or SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy) risks.
Looking back, in the 1990’s many public health groups around the world recognized that one of the most important risk factors for SIDS for infants was sleeping on their tummies – also known as in the prone position. This led to a major public health campaign known as the Back to Sleep Campaign, encouraging all caregivers to place infants on their backs to sleep. This resulted in significant reductions in SIDS rates around the world, and continues to be considered a major public health success in many countries.
Without doubt, placing babies on their backs to sleep continues to be the core recommendation for safe sleep in many countries, but moms, dads and caregivers should know that there are more steps to take to ensure a safe sleep environment for infants. While the actual cause or causes of SIDS remain unknown, large-scale epidemiological studies over the last two decades have increased our understanding of SIDS, and have identified several modifiable risk factors.
The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (CFSID) encourages all parents and caregivers to carefully follow infant safe sleep practices which are outlined in our 2011 Joint Statement on Safe Sleep which was released jointly with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society and Canadian Institute of Child Health.
1) Infants placed on their backs to sleep, for every sleep, have a reduced risk of SIDS.
2) Preventing exposure to tobacco smoke, before and after birth, reduces the risk of SIDS.
3) The safest place for an infant to sleep is in a crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets current government regulations, and is only outfitted with a firm mattress and fitted sheet.
4) Infants who share a room (but not a bed) with a parent or caregiver have a lower risk of SIDS.
5) Breastfeeding provides a protective effect for SIDS.
As a supplemental recommendation, CFSID recommends the use of a HALO SleepSack as a preferred alternative to a light blanket, since blankets can be risk factors for suffocation or overheating.
While we continue to struggle to understand the underlying causes of SIDS and other unexplained infant deaths, research indicates that parents and caregivers who follow the guidelines mentioned above will have significantly reduced SIDS risks in their homes.
The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (CFSID) is dedicated to reducing infant mortality and the rate of sudden and unexpected infant deaths, and to the emotional support of those who are affected. Jamie King is the Executive Director of CFSID.
Halo is proud to work in partnership with CFSID to help advocate and educate for safe sleep practices. To learn more about CFSID visit SIDSCanada.org.