Local News

Back Sleeping Still the Best Way to Avoid SIDS

Posted July 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— For years there's been a stigma associated with parents whose children die of sudden infant death syndrome. But doctors stress that SIDS is not the result of parents doing something wrong. Still there are some precautions they recommend for keeping your baby safe.

As a new mother, Michaelle Smith has a lot to worry about. She found herself waking up to see that her child was breathing. Smith was mainly concerned with doing everything right.

But doctors say you can do everything right and your baby is still at risk for sudden infant death syndrome. This is why in 1992 the American Pediatrics Society tried to give parents more guidance by suggesting they put babies to sleep on their sides or backs. Now, to confuse matters even more, they are recommending that babies only their backs.

The belief is that on their stomachs, babies can suffocate on bedding. Other risk factors include poor prenatal care and smoking. But doctors say most parents have nothing to worry about.

But Michaelle isn't leaving anything to chance. She says new mothers need to know everything they can about SIDS, including the right sleeping position and warning signs.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 infants die a year from SIDS in the United States. It usually happens between the ages of one week and one year. But again, because doctors know so little about it, for now the best advice they can give is for parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs.