Doctor emphasizes safety to prevent Sudden Unexpected Infant Death

New mom Shelly Robinson can’t imagine life without her little girl, Jaclyn.

“She’s just the best thing that ever happened to me so I want to make sure she’s as safe as possible,” said Robinson.

Dr. Barbara Ostfeld of the SIDS Center of New Jersey at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School says she wants every baby in the state to be as safe as possible and she never wants parents to suffer the agonizing heartbreak of losing a baby to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

“Sudden Unexpected Infant Death is the category that we look at now that includes SIDS, Sudden Infant Death syndrome. It’s one of three diagnoses in an umbrella category, the other two being accidental suffocation and the third group is called ill-defined and unknown causes,” said Ostfeld.

Although the causes of many of these deaths are often unknown, Ostfeld says there is a way to reduce the risks: safe infant sleep.

“The one people are most familiar with is back to sleep. Placing the baby to sleep on his or her back has been named one of leading pediatric discoveries of the last 40 years and has dramatically reduced the rates of these deaths so that’s the one that is absolutely key and critical,” she said.

Infants should sleep in a consumer product safety commission approved crib that is bare. She advises removing bumpers, stuffed animals and blankets from cribs.

“No decorative pillows,” the doctor advised. “I’ve never heard of a baby say I’d like a decorative pillow in my crib please!”

Ostfeld insists parents avoid sleeping with infants in their bed and smoking in the home, which increases the risk of SIDS. The CDC indicates in 2015, there were about 3,700 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the country, of which 1,600 infants died of SIDS that year, claiming the lives of 44 babies in New Jersey. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants one to 12 months old.

The SIDS Center of New Jersey has an extensive outreach program. They educate nurses at all birthing hospitals, New Jersey’s pediatricians, providers of in-home visiting programs, child care providers, social service agencies, parents and more.

“So many rules have changed, especially since I was a baby, so it’s important you do your best for your baby regardless of what other people say,” said Robinson.

Many parents wonder what to do when their babies start rolling over in their cribs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that when a baby reaches a point when they can go belly to back and back to belly both skills exist, you should still initiate sleep on the back for the first year of life. However, once those skills are there, the baby may assume another position and that would be okay,” said Ostfeld.

Baby Melody isn’t rolling over just yet and she’s only a few months old. Mom Sandra Adame loves watching her infant sleep soundly.

“It’s like falling in love all over again,” she said.

These moms will sleep a little better tonight knowing their babies are sleeping safely on their backs.