Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is, according to the national Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Resource Center, “the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history” (Willinger et al., 1991:681).
Sometimes called “crib death”, SIDS is sudden, silent, and occurs during sleep. Since most daycare programs and preschools involve naptime, daycare providers and preschool teachers must be aware of SIDS, SIDS risk, and what they can do to prevent SIDS.
SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between one month and one year of age. In addition, most SIDS deaths happen when babies are between 2 months and 4 months of age.
Is SIDS Caused by Vaccinations?
The Immunization Safety Review Committee which is established by the Institute of Medicine evaluated the evidence of possible causal associations between immunizations that are given in the first year of life and SIDS. These immunizations include Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, Hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine, Inacticated Polio vaccine (IPV), and Pneumococus vaccine (PCV).
The Committee concluded that there is no evidence of a causal relationship between these vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome, sudden unexpected death in infancy, or neonatal death.
How to Reduce the Risk of SIDS in Daycare
While SIDS is not preventable, there are some ways to reduce SIDS risk. The best way to reduce the risk of SIDS in daycare is to develop a safe sleep policy and implement safe sleep practices. The American Pediatric Association’s 2008 publication “A Childcare Provider’s Guide to Safe Sleep” details how to reduce the risk of SIDS in your daycare facility. Some important ways to prevent SIDS:
- Always place babies on their back when they sleep. Even side sleeping is discouraged
- If a parent does not wants his/her child to sleep on his or her back , Require a physician’s note that explains “why the baby should not use a back-sleeping position, how the child should be placed to sleep, and a time frame that the instructions are to be followed”.
- Infants should be placed on safety approved, firm mattress or with a fitted sheet. Do not place babies on pillows or quilts or other soft surfaces.
- Don’t put soft items in with the bed with the child. This means no soft toys, no loose or extra blankets. Keep any other items away from the child’s face.
- Never allow smoking in a room where babies sleep, as exposure to smoke has been linked to an increased risk of SIDS
- Infants should be dressed appropriately warm. This means light sleepwear so that the infant does not overheat. The NICHD recommends that the room temperature be comfortable for an adult.
- Teach all staff, substitutes, volunteers, and anyone involved in childcare jobs and tasks about safe sleep policies and practices and be sure to review these practices often.
The “Back to Sleep” campaign literature includes a pamphlet titled Safe Sleep for Your Baby: Ten Ways to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome [National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2006].
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