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SIDS prevention and risks

The following steps may help prevent SIDS:

• Early prenatal care and nutrition lowers the chance of babies born prematurely; prematurity is a risk factor for SIDs.

• Do not smoke or use illicit drugs while pregnant.

• Always place babies on their backs when laying them down to sleep.

• Use a firm crib mattress, and do not place bumper pads, covers, blankets, pillows, sleep positioners or toys in the crib.

• Have the baby sleep in your room until 6 months old. Never sleep with your baby in a bed, couch or chair.

• Keep the baby from over-heating by not overdressing him or her. Keep the room temperature between 70-72 degrees.

• Keep the baby away from second-hand smoke. Don't allow smoking in the home or car.

• Breastfeed the infant if possible.

• Give the baby a pacifier. It's thought to reduce the risk of SIDS.
"No one understands that," Dr. John Volinsky said of pacifier use and SIDS.

Sources: Dr. John Volinsky, of Winchester Pediatrics and American SIDS Institute

Some risk factors for SIDS have been identified:

• More boys than girls die of SIDS.

• It's most likely to occur between 2 and 3 months of age.

• It's more prevalent among black, American Indian and Eskimo babies.

• A sibling or cousin who has died of SIDS.

• The mother is 19 or younger.

• The mother smoked while pregnant, or used drugs or alcohol, or didn't receive proper prenatal care.

• Low birth weight.

• Prematurity.

• Respiratory infections.

• Sleeping on anything but the back.

• Sleeping on soft surfaces, such as a thick comforter or waterbed, or having a blanket over the head.

• Sleeping in bed with an adult.

• Exposure to smoking.

• Pregnancies spaced closely together.

Source: Mayo Clinic and American SIDS Institute

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