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Babies sleeping on their backs has cut SIDS-related deaths in Manitoba in half, says expert

A sleeping baby. tiarescott/Flickr

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, but thanks to an awareness campaign that began the early ’90s, the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)-related deaths in Manitoba have been cut in half.

The University of Manitoba’s Dr. Lynne Warda (department of Pediatrics and Child Health), also a consultant with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, told 680 CJOB Friday that there’s currently about one death a month from SIDS in the province.

“It’s down about 50 per cent from the early ’90s when the Back to Sleep campaign started,” said Warda.

“In 1992, the campaign started, and the advice was for (sleeping on) the back or side. Closer to 1996, it was changed to only the back, and this was all based on research that accumulated and really showed that back is the safest.”

READ MORE: Reducing the risk of SIDS: Should babies sleep in cardboard boxes like in Finland?

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Warda said the dangers of babies sleeping on their stomachs include overheating, the potential for suffocating on soft bedding or other objects, and the potential of spitting up and having it go into their airways.

“The peak risk for SIDS is around 16 weeks, or 4 months, and that’s actually when babies are starting to learn to roll,” she said.

“We actually tell parents not to worry about going in through the night and checking their baby’s position once they’re able to roll, because they’re also physically more mature and able to get out of those risky positions.”

The best advice for parents, said Warda, is to keep your baby near you in a bassinet or cradle, especially when they’re very young, making it safer and more convenient for both parent and child.

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