PA goes after SIDS

By Inquirer Medical Writer Marie McCullough:

Pennsylvania hospitals and birthing centers will soon give information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and safe sleeping practices to parents before they take their newborn babies home.

The new Department of Health initiative is modeled after another educational program, which requires parents to sign an acknowledgment that they have read and understand the information about Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Legislation creating the new SIDS program, sponsored by Republican State Sen. John Pippy, was signed into law by Gov. Rendell on Monday.

The new educational program will stress that infants should sleep on their backs on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib, with no soft bedding, toys, or comforters.

The incidence of SIDS has been cut by half since the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Back to Sleep” campaign began 14 years ago, promoting the placement of infants on their backs for sleeping and napping.

Still, SIDS remains the third most common cause of death in the first year of life in the U.S. And a 2009 study by federal public health researchers found that between 1996 and 2004, there was a spike in infant death rates attributable to accidental suffocation in beds, couches, and cribs.

In 2009 in Pennsylvania, 280 of the 576 infant deaths reviewed by public health officials were due to prematurity. SIDS accounted for 25 of the 576 deaths, or 4.3 percent, according to the annual Child Death Review report issued by the Department of Health in September

And in September, the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents to stop using so-called sleep positioners intended to prevent babies from rolling onto their stomachs while they sleep. While marketed as devices to prevent SIDS, the federal agencies said these products had been linked to at least 12 suffocation deaths of infants. Check out a Check Up item on the sleep-positioners warning here.

To check out more Check Up items go to