Dispelling common myths about safe sleeping

By Holly Brine, MD ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital

        October is SIDS Awareness Month. SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome; a newer term also includes SUID or sudden unexpected infant death. SIDS is used as a finding when all other causes of death have been ruled out. It is the leading cause of injury or death in infancy.
        While most people have heard of SIDS, there are many myths surrounding the syndrome since its exact cause is unknown.
        Myth: Only certain babies are at risk for SIDS.
        Fact: Any infant can be at risk, even a perfectly healthy baby. However, being born prematurely or having underlying medical conditions can increase the risk.
        Myth: Babies are less likely to choke in their sleep when sleeping on their stomachs.
        Fact: It is commonly believed that infants should sleep on their stomachs to reduce the risk of choking if they spit up in their sleep. However, when you look at the airway, the esophagus or food pipe is behind the trachea or air pipe. When infants are on their backs, gravity helps any refluxed milk go back down the esophagus. However, when an infant is on their stomach, the trachea is lower, and this means that milk is more likely to go down the airway and cause
        Myth: Pillows, rolls and wedges can help to make a baby safer from rolling around while sleeping.
        Fact: Holding your baby upright after feeding can help to reduce reflux. Many companies have utilized this information to prop up infants when caregivers cannot hold them after a feeding or to prevent rolling when sleeping. There was then a significant increase in suffocation deaths caused by these positioners. Every positioner device has since then been removed from stores.
        Caregivers are encouraged to never use any device or homemade contraption to elevate a baby during sleep as it can significantly increase the risk of suffocation. Always place a baby flat on its back to sleep.
        Myth: Co-sleeping allows for the parent to hear any issues and take action to avoid them.
        Fact: An infant asleep in its own space in a caregiver’s room is the safest place to be. It allows the adult to hear any issues but keeps the baby in its own space to prevent the caregiver from accidentally rolling over onto the baby or the baby getting caught in bedding. Infants less than four months of age are at highest risk of SIDS from bed sharing. If caregivers do choose to co-sleep, they should never do so under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Current smokers should not bed share with an infant to avoid exposure to smoke nor should those on sedating medications.
        Myth: Baby monitors can help to reduce the risk of SIDS
        Fact: While the appeal is obvious, baby and home monitors have not been shown to prevent SIDS and are not regulated medical devices. They do not replace safe sleep guidelines, and caregivers should not use them to replace their normal attentiveness.
        Holly Brine, MD, is a neonatologist at Hillabrand NICU at ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association