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Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - Pediatric Emergency Medicine

It can happen in infants under the age of one. Dr. Alfredo Vargas, a pediatric emergency physician with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS, is a devastating cause of death. “It’s one of the most difficult things to see.” About 90 percent of SIDS cases happen within the first four to six months of life. “It’s something that is quite common, and the incidents in the United States now is anywhere from .5 to one case per 1,000 infants,” said Dr. Vargas. But in many cases, SIDS can be prevented. “There are numerous risk factors that we’ve identified. There are things that we have implemented to help improve and reduce the number of SIDS cases,” he said. One program is called Back to Sleep, which states that all infants should be laid down on their back. “Some parents were putting the babies face down, some were putting them face up, some were putting them on their sides, but as they did more and more research they found that the incidence of SIDS was happening a lot less in babies that were being put face up as opposed to babies that were being face down,” said Dr. Vargas. Doctors say make sure there are no blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the baby’s crib that could cause a suffocation hazard. “There are a lot of risk factors that are associated with SIDS, but why it happens in some infants verses, others is unclear. They think it likely has to do with something with a lack of response in the brain stem,” he said. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all infants sleep in the same room as their parents during the first year of life. “The best thing I always tell parents is don’t ever feed the baby in the bed. Don’t make it a habit to feed them in the bed. If you have to wake up in the middle of the night, pick them up, get out of the room, go sit somewhere else,” said Dr. Vargas. Keeping the baby out of the parent’s bed can also lower the risk of SIDS. Just a few ways to protect infants while they sleep. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit