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Sudden, unexpected infant deaths can sometimes be attributed to suffocation or strangulation in the sleep environment. The vast majority, however, remain unexplained.
This episode of Charting Pediatrics explains how sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is like any other disease, with both genetic and environmental risk factors. Contributions of each are different for every person. When it comes to safe sleep for babies, there's a spectrum of vulnerability, and we don't know which babies are most vulnerable.
While we can't control genes, we can control the environment. Pediatric specialists from Children's Colorado review key recommendations, which include putting babies to sleep on their backs on a firm sleep surface that is next to, but separate from, the parents' bed.
This episode was recorded live from the 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla. with Rachel Moon, MD, discussing safe infant sleep. Dr. Moon is the Division Head of General Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and Chair of the AAP SIDS Task Force.
We touch on the impact of public policy, and how paid parental leave ties into infant sleep safety. Those parents with generous time off are able to have a higher tolerance for infant arousability. Parents who are desperate for night sleep are likely to become less rational about their safety decisions.
All the recommendations come down to research around arousability. Our experts define SIDS as ultimately a failure of arousal, in which an infant doesn't wake up to save itself from an asphyxiating environment. Autopsy studies comparing SIDS babies to non-SIDS babies show this can be a result of differences in levels of serotonin and substance P, which affects the infant's ability to lift its head and neck.
While risk profiling might be possible in the future, our current strategies depend on safe sleep advice. Listen to a discussion on how to talk to parents — without lecturing — about sleep products and their risks.
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