Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 14, 2013

Area SIDS cases prompt reminder

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A car seat normally is a safe place for a baby to sleep, but it’s important to make sure the baby’s head doesn’t slump forward.

“Never allow an infant to sleep full-time in a car seat or bouncy seat,” said Benjamin Lamphere, a Munson pediatric and internal medicine hospitalist. “Falling asleep in the back seat is okay, but you can’t consider a car seat a permanent place to sleep.”

His advice comes in light of the Sept. 9 death of a 10-month old boy in Leelanau County. The baby had fallen asleep in his car seat and was carried into the house by his day care provider.

She later discovered he wasn’t breathing and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but was unable to revive him. Continued CPR efforts in the ambulance were of no avail, according to sheriff’s reports.

An autopsy in Grand Rapids indicated the cause of death was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, pending toxicology tests, said Leelanau County Undersheriff Steve Morgan.

A two-month old infant also died in Leelanau County in July when he was put face down on a sleeping bag in a tent, Morgan said.

Lamphere was among six presenters, including Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder and three Lansing-based state officials, who brought support staff. They spoke Friday at a chilly press conference in a Munson Medical Center courtyard about safe sleep practices for babies.

Car seats usually are safe, but the baby’s head should fall back away from the body, not forward toward the chest. Otherwise the airway can be blocked, said Lamphere, who commented on the issue after the conference ended.

More than 140 infants die each year in Michigan because of unsafe sleep environments, a number that fortunately has “stagnated” since 2001, Lamphere told the audience.

It’s proof that awareness helps prevent deaths, he said.

Safety measures include putting a baby on their back and ensuring there is nothing loose in the crib, such as blankets, bumpers, or teddy bears. Sleep sacks should be used instead of blankets to avoid the danger of cloth bunching up around the baby’s face.

Speakers stressed to never take a baby into bed at night, no matter how tempting.

“While you may want to hold those babies close to you in the middle of the night, the only safe place is a crib of their own with no bumpers and pillows, safe on their back,” Snyder said.

Cindy Nichols, a pediatric sleep specialist, said it’s particularly dangerous to bring the baby into bed to nurse at night. Instead, the mom should sit upright in a chair and return the infant to the crib when finished nursing, she said.

An unintended consequence of putting children on their back in the early months of life is a condition called positional plagiocephaly, in which the back of an infant’s head can flatten or become misshapen.

To prevent this, Nichols said she encourages parents to put babies on their tummies during their awake time.