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Sacred Heart pediatrician talks steps to prevent SIDS

Photo source: MGN

Sarah Mize is a new mother to three-week-old Madden. Sleep is rare in the first few weeks. It's not just because of the baby crying and eating, you simply worry throughout the night.

She said, "They are so tiny and fragile, you forget how small they are."

A big worry is that they will suddenly stop breathing and die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS. It's often called crib death.

She said, "It's terrifying. I think the first time I heard about it, it happened to someones baby on T.V. I thought wow 'What can I do to keep that from happening to my family?'"

It's not just her. Sacred Heart Pediatrician Dr. Teresa Mahaffey said it's a concern for many parents.

"They are very fearful of finding their baby dead in a crib. They are hyper-vigilant, some don't get much sleep because of their fear of this."

She says it's most common when babies are between 2 and 3 months old. While it's often not explained, she says that there are things you can do to cut down on the chances. The biggest thing is to have the baby sleep on their back in the same room as the parents.

She said, "If you have a baby right next to you, you are going to be more tuned in, but if in other room or with the monitor on, you are not as tuned in."

She says breastfeeding cuts down on the chances. Also never sleep with your child, don't smoke, and make sure there aren't any blankets or pillows in the crib.

She said, "I can't tell you how many times I've heard people putting their baby on a pillow. That's probably one of the worst things you can do."

She also recommends using a pacifier to help keep the airway open. She also said swaddling too tightly could put your baby at risk. A recent study by the journal "Pediatric" said swaddling may contribute to a higher rate of SIDS.

Dr. Mahaffey said ,"If you swaddle your baby too tightly and they roll even the slightest amount, they can suffocate so do not tightly swaddle your baby."

The good news is the risk goes down once the baby is around 4 months old. In her 25 year career, she has only had one baby die from SIDS.

She said, "The fear is worse than actual incidence."

Here is a link to the rate of SIDS county by county in the state of Florida.