Sort­ing out con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion about SIDS

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Karen Wein­traub

Par­ents are of­ten given con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion about how to put their new­born to bed — in­for­ma­tion that can prove lethal, a new study warns.

The Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics’ “back to sleep” cam­paign, started in 1992, has helped limit so-called sud­den un­ex­pected in­fant deaths in older ba­bies, but new­borns still are dy­ing too of­ten, ac­cord­ing to the study, pub­lished Wed­nes­day in The Jour­nal of Pe­di­atrics.

From 1995-2014, there were 8,869 sud­den un­ex­pected in­fant deaths in the United States — nearly a third of them in the first week.

“I don’t think peo­ple have rec­og­nized the risk of sud­den un­ex­pected in­fant death in early weeks and days of life,” said Joel Bass, the lead re­searcher on the study and chair­man of the depart­ment of pe­di­atrics at New­tonWelles­ley Hos­pi­tal out­side Bos­ton.

Bass, the fa­ther of five, said the safest way for new­borns to sleep is alone in a crib with no pil­lows, bumpers or dec­o­ra­tions. And moms should sit up in hard chairs while breast­feed­ing or hand the baby to dad in the mid­dle of the night to bot­tle feed with ex­pressed milk or for­mula, Bass said.

“The dan­ger to the baby is get­ting their face to a soft sur­face,” he said.

There’s no dis­agree­ment about that. But some strongly dis­agree with Bass and the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics that par­ents shouldn’t share a bed with their child.

James McKenna, a bi­o­log­i­cal an­thro­pol­o­gist, said his own re­search sug­gests that breast­fed ba­bies are safest and have the best out­comes if they are al­lowed to sleep with their par­ents — what he calls “breast­sleep­ing.”

Ly­ing to­gether helps the baby reg­u­late its heart-rate, me­tab­o­lism, blood pres­sure and tem­per­a­ture, he said.

Both par­ents and child won’ t sleep as deeply — but that’s good, said McKenna, who di­rects the mother-baby be­hav­ioral sleep lab at the Univer­sity of Notre Dame in In­di­ana. Deep sleep is dan­ger­ous for new­borns be­cause it makes it harder for them to reg­u­late their breath­ing and shift gears to wake up. Shal­low sleep keeps par­ents at­ten­tive and less likely to roll over or smother their baby, he said.

Par­ents, he said, “have ev­ery right to be­come fully in­formed” about how to co-sleep safely, by keep­ing the child away from pil­lows, blan­kets and cracks be­tween mat­tresses and head­boards.

Jay Gor­don, a pe­di­a­tri­cian in pri­vate prac­tice in Los An­ge­les, agrees with McKenna that a healthy, full-term baby is safer co-sleep­ing than sleep­ing alone.

It’s not re­al­is­tic to tell moth­ers they need to sit up to breast­feed, said Gor­don, who is on the pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sory board for La Leche League, a breast­feed­ing ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Monique Sat­pute, a neona­tol­o­gist at Mount Wash­ing­ton Pe­di­atric Hos­pi­tal in Bal­ti­more, is strongly op­posed to cosleep­ing, which she says poses a sig­nif­i­cant risk. “Put the baby in a safe place to sleep, and you get your own rest as well,” Sat­pute said.

In a safe sleep en­vi­ron­ment, a baby is on its back on a firm sleep sur­face; and there are no crib bumpers, pil­lows, blan­kets, loose bed­ding, or toys in the sleep area. SAFE TO SLEEPR CAM­PAIGN

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