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BOX: DO’S AND DON’TS FOR SIDS PREVENTION Do:
By ROBERT VILLANUEVA firstname.lastname@example.org ELIZABETHTOWN — Some people might be in store for a few surprises when they take classes that include information on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome taught by Amy Straney, health educator at Hardin Memorial Hospital. “Things have changed since your mother was a mother,” Straney, a registered nurse and certified child birth educator, said. Though most parents are already aware of SIDS when they take the labor preparation class or baby care class, Straney said some parents might learn things that differ from what has been handed down through family members. SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under the age of 1 that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, according to one definition at the American SIDS Institute Web site. The peak risk age range for SIDS is when an infant is 2 to 4 months old, Straney said. One of the things parents-to-be learn in Straney’s classes is that the fewer things in the baby’s crib, the better. That means no pillows, no comforters, no mattress pads or bumper pads and no sleep positioners. A firm mattress in the infant’s crib is recommended, and a light blanket is fine. But putting an infant in bed with the parents is a no-no because suffocation of the infant could result. And how you place an infant down to sleep is important, too. In fact, a campaign started in the 1990s called “Back to Sleep” — which stresses putting infants down to sleep on their backs rather than on their stomachs — is credited with reducing SIDS cases by 50 percent. “It was determined that was a big factor,” Straney said. Parents of infants up to the age of 1 should adhere to the “Back to Sleep” guideline, she said. But that doesn’t mean infants should be placed on their backs all the time. When awake and supervised, infants can be placed on their stomachs. “Let them have time on their tummy,” Straney said. About 1,700 babies are born at HMH each year. The staff at The Birthplace covers the topic of SIDS with new parents. Straney also offers two classes that cover the subject: a labor preparation class and a baby care class. Expectant mothers should think about taking classes early, she said. “We usually like them to register by their third or fourth month of pregnancy,” Straney said. The cost of the labor preparation class is $15 per couple with a cost of $5 per couple for the baby care class. Parents don’t have to have their babies delivered at HMH to take the classes. They can register online at www.hmh.net or by calling (270) 737-4464. Parents also are encouraged to research baby products. Just because a product says it prevents SIDS "doesn’t mean it does,” Straney said. She cautioned parents about doing research online because not all information is credible. Straney recommended parents get their information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has a Web site, www.aap.org. Parents can do other things to help reduce the risk of SIDS for their infants. Allowing an infant to take a pacifier might decrease the risk of SIDS, but an infant should not be forced to take it, she said. Also, they should be breast-fed until they are a month old. SIDS prevention really should begin before a child is born. “Early prenatal care, of course, is a must,” Straney said. A mother-to-be should not smoke because that increases the risk of SIDS. Drug use also increases the risk. Also, the room infant sleeps in should be comfortable, but “not to hot,” Straney said. SIDS awareness shouldn’t be limited to mothers, either. “Anybody that has anything to do with babies, we want to educate them,” Straney said. That includes fathers, grandparents, relatives and caregivers. “We like to educate everybody we can regarding SIDS and get them to do everything they can to prevent it,” Straney said. Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.