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HEALTHBEAT 4: Raising Awareness and Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- October raises awareness for SIDS, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

SIDS is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than a year old, in which the cause isn't obvious without investigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3,600 babies in the United States die suddenly and unexpectedly each year.
Under the umbrella of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths, falls unknown cause, accidental suffocation, strangulation in bed, and SIDS.

In 2018, there were about 1,300 deaths due to SIDS, about 1,300 deaths due to unknown causes, and about 800 deaths due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

"It happens to a lot more parents than I think our community realizes," said Alyssa Sackett, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator.

As a Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator at UnityPoint Health-St Luke’s, Alyssa Sackett has seen that SIDS tragedy first hand.

"Maybe it's just, you're overly tired and you think I'm just going to feed them and close my eyes while I feed them," said Sackett. "Some things can happen when you don't expect them to."

So to help prevent that tragedy, Sackett said it's important to educate parents on what a safe sleep environment looks like. She said to follow the A-B-C'S.

A stands for alone.

"Always place your child alone in the crib," said Sackett. "That means no stuffed animals, no bumper rails around the crib. Try to eliminate any blankets, no head coverings. That will help prevent so there is not that overheating element as well."

B stands for back.

"So always place your child on their back to sleep," said Sackett.

And, finally C for crib

"Place your child in a crib or a pack and play or someplace safe where they aren't around any of those objects," said Sackett.

Also, to better educate parents, they developed the UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's Safe Sleep Program last year. It provides safe sleep kits and pack and plays for parents.

"So there is a book, some magnets, a lot of reading materials as well to help them understand how doing these things will help reduce their risk," said Sackett.

And Sackett said the response has been very good.

"We've provided around 60 or more safe sleep kits and cribs to community members where otherwise their child would have been practicing unsafe sleep," said Sackett.

A great step, Sackett said, to helping reduce Sudden Infant Death.

Sackett said it's important for parents should avoid alcohol and illegal drugs, especially when putting your child to sleep. She also encourages parents to stop smoking if they do.

Michaela Feldmann

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