SW Louisiana leads in number of SIDS deaths

by Brandon Richards

Health care professionals from across Louisiana gathered at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Thursday to kick off a year-long SIDS awareness (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) program.

"[SIDS] is when an infant appears healthy, but for an unknown reason dies during sleep," explained B.J. Foch, medical director for the Department of Health and Hospitals Region 5.

Southwest Louisiana has one of the highest rates for SIDS in the entire country. The rate is even higher in the African-American community.

The U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services offers the following tips to parents of infants, to help prevent SIDS.

  • Always place your baby on his or her back when they sleep
  • Place baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Keep soft objects away from baby
  • Don't allow smoking around your baby
  • Keep your baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others are sleeping
  • Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep
  • Do not let your baby overheat during sleep
  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS (most have not been tested for effectiveness)
  • Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS

"Babies sleep safest when they sleep alone, on their back and in a crib," Foch said.

The next upcoming event to raise awareness about SIDS will be the My Fair Baby Safe Sleep Baby Shower on Saturday, October 10th at the Lake Charles Civic Center (Contraband Room).

Parents will receive training on safe sleep practices.

The United Way has a program that assists low-income families purchase with obtaining safe cribs. For more information, call (337) 433-1088.