Florida Recognises October As SIDS, Pregnancy, Infant Loss Awareness Month

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The Florida Department of Health (DOH) recognizes October as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. DOH, in partnership with the Healthy Start Coalitions, is working to reduce the risk of SIDS, pregnancy and infant loss by providing education and support services to women before they become pregnant and throughout their pregnancies. Together we are striving to ensure that parents and caregivers receive the information they need to help keep their baby healthy and safe.

SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant under one year of age whose death remains unexplained after a thorough investigation. Stillbirth is the death of an infant in-utero at 20 weeks or more of completed gestation. The causes of SIDS and unexplained stillbirth are still largely unknown but research is demonstrating that certain maternal behaviors increase the risk of infant death. One of the biggest risk factors is maternal smoking.

Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy:

* Have approximately 30% higher odds of being born prematurely.

* Are more likely to be born with low birth weight (less than 2500 grams or 5.5 pounds), increasing their risk for illness or death.

* Weigh an average of 200 grams less than infants born to women who do not smoke.

* Are 1.4 to 3.0 times more likely to die of SIDS.

Bed sharing can increase the risk of SIDS and suffocation. An alternative to bed sharing is room sharing, where the crib or bassinet is placed next to the parents' bed for more convenient feeding and comforting.

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Other steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death are:

* Always place babies on their backs to sleep at night and during naps.

* Breastfeed.

* For sleep, use a safety-approved crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress, covered by only a sheet. Place the crib or other safe sleep area in the same room as your bed to facilitate breastfeeding.

* Do not place babies to sleep on soft surfaces (adult beds, waterbeds, sofas, chairs, quilts, sheepskins). Do not sleep with an infant on a sofa or chair.

* Do not use blankets in the baby's crib. Layer clothing or use a wearable blanket to keep the baby warm.

* Remove all soft bedding and other soft items from the crib (including soft or pillow-like bumpers).

* Take care not to overheat babies with too much clothing. Keep room temperature at what would be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.

* Offer a pacifier at nighttime and at naptime.

* Educate everyone you know who cares for babies about these important safety tips.

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