Par­ents are con­cerned about baby

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK -

Wel­come to the launch of a new col­umn — “Ask the Doc­tors.” To­gether with a col­league, we take over for “Ask Doc­tor K,” in which Dr. An­thony Ko­maroff dis­pensed timely ad­vice and guid­ance to read­ers. We plan to con­tinue in this same tra­di­tion by of­fer­ing an­swers to your ques­tions about health and well­ness.

“We” are Dr. Eve Glazier and Dr. El­iz­a­beth Ko, in­ternists and pri­mary care physi­cians at UCLA Health. Our spe­cialty is in­ter­nal medicine, with a fo­cus on the man­age­ment and pre­ven­tion of chronic dis­ease. We share this col­umn on al­ter­nat­ing days with our col­league, Dr. Robert Ash­ley, whose in­tro­duc­tion will be pub­lished tomorrow.

What brings us to this col­umn is a life­long pas­sion for both learn­ing and teach­ing. We take a lively in­ter­est in all ar­eas of health and well­ness.

Amid a flood of in­for­ma­tion — and mis­in­for­ma­tion — avail­able these days, our goal is to pro­vide not just facts and statis­tics but also con­text and nu­ance. We want to give you the tools you need for a healthy and happy life.

We are firm be­liev­ers that knowl­edge can help you to take con­trol of your health and well-be­ing.

We have al­ways been care­ful to put our son to sleep on his back to pre­vent SIDS, but he has re­cently started turn­ing over by him­self, and we find him on his stom­ach. Should we pre­vent this? Should we put him on his back again?

Dear Reader: You’re right that plac­ing in­fants on their backs to sleep greatly re­duces the rate of Sud­den In­fant Death Syn­drome (SIDS), the lead­ing cause of death in in­fants be­tween 1 month and 1 year old. About 1,500 in­fants die of SIDS each year in the United States, with most of the cases oc­cur­ring in ba­bies younger than 6 months old.

The good news is that once your baby is able to turn over by him­self, which hap­pens at about 6 months, his brain is de­vel­oped enough to alert him to breath­ing prob­lems. Rolling over is an im­por­tant part of his de­vel­op­ment, and he should be al­lowed to do so.

You should con­tinue to place him on his back when you put him down to sleep, but ac­cord­ing to guide­lines pub­lished by the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, you don’t need to re­turn him to his back when he turns over. At that point, it’s OK to let your baby choose his sleep po­si­tion. You should also: • Be sure to use a firm mat­tress with a fit­ted sheet.

• Keep his crib clear of soft ob­jects like pil­lows, stuffed toys, crib bumpers or loose bed­ding.

• Over­heat­ing may play a role in SIDS, so keep his room at a com­fort­able tem­per­a­ture and don’t over­dress him for bed. He may be too warm if his chest feels hot or if he is sweat­ing.

• Don’t cover him with loose bed­ding such as a blan­ket, quilt or sheet, as he may get tan­gled up.

• Do keep your baby close by in your room, but don’t sleep with him in your bed. The risk of ac­ci­den­tally rolling over on the baby or of him falling out of the bed is too great.

Fol­low these sim­ple pre­cau­tions to give your baby the safest sleep en­vi­ron­ment. And con­grat­u­la­tions on your son’s mile­stone of turn­ing over by him­self!

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an in­ternist and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of medicine at UCLA Health. El­iz­a­beth Ko, M.D., is an in­ternist and pri­mary care physi­cian at UCLA Health.

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