Tag Archives: SIDS

Take a deep breath…and clear the air for your baby

I thought I knew plenty about newborns. But I didn’t know that they are obligate nasal breathers, which means they cannot breathe through their mouths until they are around four months old.

I also didn’t really ever understand how to use saline solution to clear a new baby’s nose. (Four kids, and I never learned this? Imagine how many hours of sleep I lost!) Or that toxins from the clothes of a tobacco smoker are enough to cause irritation to the respiratory system.

Or that if you can hear a child snoring from the next room, it could indicate a significant sleep problem — such as sleep apnea.

Ear, nose and throat specialist Nina Shapiro, M.D., has published a book with plenty of new information on breathing problems in babies and young children.

Take a Deep Breath: Clear the Air for the Health of Your Child offers a look at the function of the entire respiratory system in the very early years so that parents can better understand what is normal and what is not.

The book is divided in to sections based on age- from newborn to five years. Each chapter presents the information that parents are most likely to wonder about during that particular age.

Shapiro, who is  director of pediatric otolaryngology and an associate professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, formats the close of each chapter with a nice re-cap based on the “big picture,” what is normal, (don’t worry) and when to become concerned and seek medical attention (worry).

A book that focuses on the respiratory system is a great resource for parents, especially in the first few weeks of life. As Shapiro explains, a clearer understanding of the anatomy of the air passages, where the windpipe is in relation to the esophagus, and how the entire, minuscule system must work together in order for a baby to thrive can help to make caring for a baby a little less daunting.

Shapiro weighs in on proper sleeping positions (back remains best to help prevent SIDS), the immune system and vaccines, (get them) and air quality issues within the home. She describes in detail the little noises that babies and young children can make  while breathing or sleeping and explains just what those sounds can mean.

Take a Deep Breath  is packed with respiratory specifics that until now have been glossed over in other more general books on child health. Information abounds on sore throats, but should a parent be concerned if a child has a hoarse voice? How do you tell apart a bad cold from a sinus infection? Would you recognize pertussis? Or, what do you do if you sense a foul odor coming from a toddler’s nose?

Shapiro’s work would make a great resource to any new parent’s print library. It’s always a plus when a highly-trained medical specialist provides essential information in a usable and very readable format.

If you have a new baby, this one isn’t going to gather dust on the shelf. And if you’re worried about dust, check out chapter seven…

Stop using infant sleep positioners!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned parents to stop the use of infant sleep positioners.

These products claim to help infants to sleep on their backs, reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

But over the past 13 years, the FDA and the CPSC received 12 reports of the deaths of infants between the ages of one month and four months when they suffocated after becoming trapped  within the bolsters of the sleep positioner or between the sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinette.

In addition to the reported deaths, the CPSC has received dozens of reports of infants who were placed on their backs or sides in sleep positioners, only to be found later in potentially hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners.

The positioners are sold at many large retail outlets and online stores such as Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, and Amazon.com and have not been recalled by the manufacturers.

There is no evidence that the devices prevent SIDS, says  the FDA. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of any sleep positioner to prevent SIDS. Read AAP recommendations on SIDS prevention.

Other claims made by makers of the devices include that they aid in food digestion, ease colic or the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); or prevent flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly).

But the  risk of suffocation outweighs any reason to use a sleep positioner, says the FDA.

The CPSC and the FDA are warning parents and child care providers to:

  • STOP using sleep positioners. Using a positioner to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep is dangerous and unnecessary.
  • NEVER put pillows, infant sleep positioners, comforters, or quilts under a baby or in a crib.
  • ALWAYS place an infant on his or her back at night and during nap time. To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing infants to sleep on their backs and not their sides.