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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Several years ago I chaired a multiagency case management review into the death of an infant. His mother brought him into bed with her during the night and woke up to find the baby dead beside her.

There were multiple risk factors in this situation including, co-sleeping and the fact that mother smoked during pregnancy and both parents still smoked.

Since that time I remain interested in the extent to which the incidence of SIDS is reducing and the impact of implementation of latest research on practice.

An article By Horne Hauck and Moon in The BMJ (May 2015) summarises the advice for safe sleeping of infants.

  • Children should be put to sleep on their back in their own cot in the parents’ bedroom

  • Children under one year should not be brought into the parental bed nor left to sleep on a couch or other soft surface. Bed sharing is particularly risky if the parents smoke, use illicit drugs or consume alcohol

  • Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk 5 times. An estimated one third of SIDS deaths could be prevented if exposure to smoke in utero was eliminated

  • Exposing babies to smoky environments increases the risk

  • Pre-term babies are more vulnerable

  • Breast feeding decreases the risk of SIDS

Social Workers are regularly in contact with vulnerable families where children are at higher risk of neglect.

It is important therefore that we are familiar with factors associated with sudden infant deaths and support parents in reducing specific risks.

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