A pediatrician explains how to protect your baby

to put the child to bed

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Each year, about 3,400 American infants die suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Oct. 12, 2022, SciLine interviewed Dr. Rachel Moon, professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Moon discussed the best ways for babies to sleep safely, and recent media reports called for an investigation into the “cause” of SIDS.

Below you can see some points from the discussion. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What is SIDS?

Rachel Moon: It stands for sudden infant death syndrome and is a term that describes when children die suddenly and unexpectedly. It has been replaced by a more comprehensive term called sudden and unexpected infant death, which covers SIDS and then other sleep-related deaths (such as accidental suffocation) and deaths that occur while a child is sleeping or in a sleep environment.

What exactly causes these children to die?

Rachel Moon: What ends up happening is that for most children there is a lack of stimulation. They cannot wake up to respond when they are not getting enough oxygen or there is too much carbon dioxide in their system. This is not something you can see in a lab test or a blood test or any kind of test. We only find out when the child is dead.

What is the safest way for babies to sleep and why?

Rachel Moon: We want every baby to sleep on their back on a surface that is firm and flat, meaning it is not tilted and safety approved. So, preferably a crib, stroller, playpen, or other product approved by the CPSC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And then there should be nothing in that area except the child. We also want children to be in a smoke-free environment and preferably receive as much breast milk, mother’s milk, as possible.

What sleeping positions are dangerous for children?

Rachel Moon: Babies should never, ever, ever sleep on sofas, couches or overstuffed armchairs.

Dr. Rachel Moon talks about SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

What is known about the safety of having a baby nap in a sling or carrier?

Rachel Moon: What we are concerned about is that when a child is in this type of device, the child’s body position may be such that it blocks their airway or their face is up against something that can block the airway.

It is therefore fine for the child to be in a carrier or carrier, but we recommend that the child is upright so that the head and neck are straight and the airway is straight. And then we also recommend that the baby’s head and neck are above the carrier so that you can always see the baby’s face and that there is no obstruction in the nose and mouth.

What is known about the safety of letting a child sleep in a car seat?

Rachel Moon: If you’re traveling, a car seat is the absolute safest place for your child to be. However, once you get to where you are going, it is best if you remove the child from the car seat and then place the child on a flat, firm surface.

When babies are prone, it’s actually harder for them to keep their airways straight. Their heads are very large and heavy for their body size. And so it takes a lot more work when they are angled than if they are flat on the back. They can develop muscle fatigue and it can actually be dangerous for them. … There is actually compelling biomechanical data that led the CPSC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to restrict and hopefully ban reclining sleep products like rockers and similar products.

What is the evidence for the safety of ‘co-sleeping’ where children sleep in the bed with their parents?

Rachel Moon: The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or bassinet or other safety-approved device that is next to your bed. We know that children who sleep in the same bed as their parents have a higher risk of dying.

We recommend that the space is right next to your bed because it makes it easier for you to turn around and pick up the baby or comfort the baby or bring the baby to bed for feeding. If you bring the baby to bed to eat, that’s fine. But when you or the baby is ready to fall asleep, just move the baby back to the crib.

What should parents and other caregivers know about the recent headlines that a study has found the “cause” of SIDS?

Rachel Moon: These researchers—they looked at dried blood samples. And these are the tests that are done on your baby when your baby is born to look for genetic disorders.

They took these dried blood samples and looked for a specific substance in the body called butyrylcholinesterase. And they found that it was at a different level in children who died of angiopathy than in children who did not die of angiopathy … While I think this is an interesting finding, and while it may lead to other tests and other studies, at this point, is not the be-all and end-all.

We don’t have a test that can tell who is going to die of SIDS and who isn’t. And so you still have to follow the safe sleep guidelines.

Provided by The Conversation

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Quotation: The tragedy of sudden infant death syndrome: Pediatrician explains how to protect your baby (2022, November 17) retrieved November 17, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-11-tragedy-sudden-infant- death- syndrome.html

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