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SIDS still an unknown issue for infants

It is a medical phrase that strikes fear into parents of newborn child — SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

According to a report at the Lawrence County Child Fatality Review Board meeting in March 2007, there were five SIDS cases in the county in 2006.

The cause of SIDS according to the National Institute of Health, is an abnormality in the infant’s brain stem and brain that control the heart, breathing, blood pressure and body temperature.

What exactly causes this part of the brain to malfunction continues to be examined.

“SIDS is a problem that is still under investigation, but great strides are being made,” said Rita Townsend with the Lawrence County Health Department.

She added it happens more commonly to male infants. In the 2006 deaths of the Lawrence County infants, three were boys and two were girls.

“It is more common in the fall and winter months,” Townsend added. “Ninety-five percent of the SIDS babies are younger than 6 months old with the peak age being 2-4 months.”

While there is no way to prevent SIDS, there are several environmental things that may reduce the chance of it happening.

Doctors recommend that the infant sleep on its back, not on its front. Do not bundle a baby while they sleep, a sleeper is better. Don’t have pillows, stuff animals or other items in the crib.

The baby should sleep on a firm mattress and shouldn’t sleep on water beds.

Also parents shouldn’t allow people to smoke around the infant.

Another factor is not letting the child overheat.

According to an Associated Press article, a recent study by the National Institute of Health involving 500 infants that the chance of a baby dying from SIDS is also greatly reduced by the use of a fan to circulate the air while the baby slept.

For more information contact the Lawrence County Health Department at (740) 532-3962.