Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
A new report published this week in the journal Pediatrics contains new recommendations for pediatricians and parents on how to prevent and correct head flattening in babies. The number of babies diagnosed with the misshapen skull syndrome known as positional plagiocephaly has increased exponentially since safe sleep recommendations have had infants spending so much time on their backs, researchers found. And while they in no way suggest that parents ignore the recommended safe sleep practices, researchers suggest that pediatricians counsel parents from their babies’ very first checkups on ways to prevent and correct flattening heads.
CNN.com lists 5 of the recommendations, which can help parents avoid placing their babies in skull-correcting helmets if the problem has not improved by 6 months of age:
- - Increase “tummy” time, which is supervised time during the day when baby lies on its stomach. A baby should spend at least 30 to 60 minutes a day on it’s belly, something that can be done immediately after birth. This will help develop neck and shoulder muscles, says [the report's lead author, Dr. James] Laughlin. It has also been shown to “enhance motor developmental scores,” according to this new report.
- - The NIH recommends changing the direction your baby lies in the crib each week. They say this change will encourage the baby to turn his or her head in different directions to avoid resting in the same position all the time.
- - Some babies prefer to hold their head to one side. Laughlin suggests laying them down in a different way when they’re awake, so they have something interesting to look at on the opposite side. If you have them in a car seat or sitting in something else, you can also change the position to make the baby look in the opposite direction.
- - Parents may find their babies sleep well sitting in a car seat, but this is another way they can develop an asymmetrical shape, especially in the first 6 months of life. So experts suggest babies shouldn’t spend a prolonged period of time in a car seat (unless they are in a car of course) or bouncy seat.
- - Cuddle! The NIH says “getting cuddle time with the baby by holding him or her upright over one shoulder often during the day,” is another way to prevent flat spots.
Image: Baby doing tummy time, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, November 18th, 2011
In the wake of a spate of infant deaths among those who were “co-sleeping” in a bed next to their parents, Milwaukee officials have launched an aggressive ad campaign designed to shock parents into heeding safe sleep recommendations.
Nine infants have died in the city this year, the latest just 7 weeks old, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The ad the city unveiled depicts an infant in a bed next to a large butcher knife, alongside a caption that reads, “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.” The city has set a goal of reducing the infant death rate to an historic low by 2017, including eliminating racial disparities in the death rate.
From the Journal Sentinel:
“We as adults who love babies love the thought of a baby in bed,” [Milwaukee Mayor Tom] Barrett said.
“Cuddling a baby is very nurturing,” he said.
But if it takes a raw message to get the point across that babies must sleep alone, on their backs, in their own cribs, the ad is not too shocking, the mayor said.
“Co-sleeping deaths are the most preventable form of infant death in this community,” Barrett said.
“Is it shocking? Is it provocative?” asked Baker, the health commissioner.
“Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better (infant death) rates than Milwaukee.”
(image via: http://www.jsonline.com/)
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Friday, November 11th, 2011
A two-month-old baby boy died last week in Toledo after his mother fell asleep in bed with him while breastfeeding. Toledo’s WTOL News reports that the mother woke to discover the baby was not breathing. Paramedics could not revive the infant.
NPR.org summarizes the current recommendations for how to help an infant sleep safely and avoid such a tragedy:
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Co-sleeping is a catch-all term that needs to be broken down into subcategories. Sharing a room and sharing a bed are quite different practices.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recognizes this distinction. It advises that infants should always sleep on their backs and on a firm surface, and on the issue of co-sleeping, recommends that “the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).” The idea is that room-sharing embraces the benefit of close monitoring of the baby but avoids any risk of a parent inadvertently rolling over on the child.
Without a doubt, alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use by the parent, or low birth weight in the infant, make bed-sharing too risky.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), where infants die of unexplained cause before age 1, has declined dramatically since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. But at its annual meeting in Boston this week, the AAP said that sleep-related deaths for other reasons, including entrapment or suffocation, have been on the rise, prompting the group to issue new guidelines for safe sleep.
The group made the following recommendations:
- Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
- Wedges and positioners should not be used.
- Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
- Breastfeeding is recommended.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).
For more, visit the AAP website http://www.healthychildren.org/.
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