October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month – Circleville Herald

CIRCLEVILLE — October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, and Berger Health System is dedicated to increasing awareness about these tragic causes of infant death, and educating the community about minimizing the risk factors associated with SIDS, pregnancy and infant mortality.

“Despite the existence of proactive steps parents can take to reduce their baby’s risk of infant death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remains the leading cause of death for infants one month to one year of age,” stated Dr. Gayle Melnick, pediatric specialist at Berger Health System. “Although there is no known way to prevent SIDS completely, there are steps parents, grandparents and caregivers can take to help protect their baby from SIDS,” added Dr. Melnick.

Berger has implemented the Infant Safe Sleep ABCs and This Side Up campaign to help reduce infant mortality rates. More than three Ohio infant deaths occur each week that are sleep-related, including SIDS, suffocation and accidents during sleep. While health care providers and researchers do not know the exact causes, they do know that modeling safe sleep in hospitals and practicing those methods at home can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep related deaths.

“Infant Safe Sleep ABCs program has 3 basic ABC steps. All infants sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib,” explained Dr. Melnick. “We reinforce these ABC steps by educating parents before they leave Berger Hospital with their new baby, during well-baby visits and encourage other ways to reduce the risk of SIDS,” said Dr. Melnick.

In addition to always placing infants on their backs to sleep, use a firm sleep surface, free of soft objects, toys and loose bedding. For sleep, use a safety-approved crib, portable crib, play yard or bassinet with a firm mattress that fits snuggly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. “It is safer for your baby to have a separate sleep space alongside the adult’s bed for at least the first six months, and the adult will have a more restful sleep too without fear of rolling over onto the infant,” added Dr. Melnick.

Another factor that may reduce the risk of SIDS is to not overheat babies with too much clothing or loose blankets. In cold weather, parents and caregivers often place extra blankets or clothes on infants, to keep them warm. But over bundling may cause infants to overheat, increasing their risk for SIDS. Parents and caregivers should dress infants in light clothing for sleep and keep rooms at a temperature comfortable for adults. Babies should not sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or chair and not with anyone else, adults or children.

In conjunction with SIDS awareness, pregnancy and infant loss includes but is not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a newborn. Good prenatal care and nutrition, stopping smoking before becoming pregnant and no smoking, alcohol or illegal drug consumption during pregnancy decreases the risks of SIDS, low birth weight and/or preterm delivery which contribute to infant mortality. The Ohio Department of Health estimates that one-third of SIDS deaths would be prevented if maternal smoking during pregnancy were eliminated.

It is important to not expose babies to second-hand smoke after they are born. New research also warns of the dangers of third-hand smoke, which exposes infants to the chemicals caused by smoking left behind on clothing, in homes and cars.

“Not only is it important to educate the parents about these important safety tips, but everyone you know who cares for babies,” added Dr. Melnick. “The sleep safe ABCs are simple steps to take to reduce the risk of sudden, unexplained infant deaths.”

Established or new patients who are looking for more information about Pediatricians at Berger Health System may call our central scheduling office at 740-420-8422 or visit us online at bergerhealth.com.