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Protecting our Babies against SIDS

​​​​​A Message from Dr. Shannon McDonald, Deputy Chief Medical Officer

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October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. I would first like to express my deepest condolences to anyone who has lost their precious baby. I know the unspeakable and life-changing pain of losing a child. There are simply no words.

In this message, I want to share information about what we can do to protect babies in our communities from SIDS. The old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true, and I know we all want to do what we can to lessen risks. Please check out our Facebook page, as all through October, we will be sharing prevention tips to keep our babies as safe and healthy as possible – the main one being that babies should be placed on their backs only for sleeping.

Every year, seemingly healthy babies unexpectedly die in their sleep – including our own First Nations and Aboriginal babies. Known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it is the most common cause of death in babies between one and 12 months of age, even though it is rare. The exact causes of SIDS are still unknown and can happen even when you do everything right, however there are ways to protect against the risk of accidental infant safe-sleep-related deaths.

Here are some of the main SIDS prevention actions recommended by doctors, as well as links to information about implementing them:

• Place your baby on his or her back only. This is the most important thing you can do. (Babies may not be able to breathe as well on their bellies, and can easily roll onto their bellies if placed on their sides.)

• Ensure your baby has a crib, box or basket or a firm surface on which to sleep, in the same room (but not bed) with you, especially for the first six months. Babies should never sleep on adult beds, couches or chairs, or any other soft material, either alone or with anyone else. Please see our Safe Sleep resources at http://www.fnha.ca/wellness/wellness-for-first-nations/environmental-health-and-safety/injury-prevention/safe-infant-sleep-toolkit-safe-sleep-cards-and-guide.

• Don’t smoke (while pregnant or afterwards) or be around smokers. Babies’ developing lungs cannot handle even second- or third-hand smoke, whether it’s in the air or on clothing, furniture or rugs. 

• Keep soft objects, such as pillows and loose bedding, out of your baby's sleep area. A baby’s bed does not need bumper pads.

• Breastfeed your baby if at all possible, as breastfeeding is a protective factor against SIDS. It is Breastfeeding Week​ this week, so now is a good time to find lots of infor​mation​ about this healthy practice!


We will be sending more information throughout the month to promote awareness of SIDS.

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