SIDS rising in Douglas County

Story by KETV: 

OMAHA, Neb. —The number of Sudden Infant Deaths (SIDS), or Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUIDS), is on the rise again in Douglas County.

There have been eight cases reported in Douglas County this year alone compared to nine cases in all of 2014, eight in 2013, six in 2012, and five in 2011. Safe sleep habits are essential if our community is going to change this trend, officials say.

“Research shows that babies sleep the safest on their backs in uncluttered cribs,” said Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department. “Accidental suffocation is a serious problem in this county and in this country.”

With October dedicated to SIDS Awareness, The Douglas County Health Department along with Project Harmony is taking this opportunity to remind expecting parents, new parents, and all infant care providers that adopting safe sleep habits is one of the most important things you can do for your child.

"We've had a couple of cases where it has been a day care provider, or even a grandparent, who says 'well, I always put my kids asleep on their belly,' and a child who's been sleeping on their back who is now sleeping on their belly is at even more risk," said Project Harmony pediatrician Dr. Suzanne Haney.?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 3,500 SUID cases each year. Three commonly reported types of SUID cases are SIDS, unknown causes and accidental suffocation. Reports show the combined SUIDS rate going down, however accidental suffocation has consistently been going up since 1998.

"There should be no blame," said Haney. "Parents get tired. It's very difficult to care for your infant, and we're not going to try to blame parents or point the finger. We want them to recognize that they should take that extra step at 2 a.m. We know you're tired, but it's worth it to get up and put them down."

Although SIDS/SUIDS diagnoses are largely inconclusive and unpredictable, statistics show that as many 90 percent of unexpected infant deaths are related to unsafe sleep practices. The age range at most risk is newborn until 8-month-old infants, peaking at 2-month-olds.

“We understand how it happens,” says Haney. “Parents genuinely intend to do the right thing.?It is easy to fall asleep while lying next to or holding your child. We all need to help support parents making good decisions, knowing that risk is risk.”

Emily Wolff lost her son to SUIDS at four months of age in March of 2014.

“Most mothers are told about this risk, but you don’t realize all of the factors involved,” Wolff said. “It’s the classic, ‘It won’t happen to me’, and then it does.”

The statistics are real, SIDS/SUIDS can, and does, happen. New and expecting parents need continued support of family and friends. Know the facts and help prevent this from happening to your family or someone you care about.

“It’s not about fear, it’s about being informed so you can make the best choices for your family,” Wolff said.

For those parents who have experienced a loss of a child due to SIDS/SUIDS, please call the Douglas County Health Department at 402-444-7471 for additional resources and support.

For more information on how you can reduce the risk of SIDS, visit HealthyChildren.Org or Safe Kids Worldwide for a free brochure to download.

Other risks to unexplained sudden infant deaths include smoking, caregivers being under the influence, and bottle feeding.  

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