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New Ways to Prevent SIDS

The number of deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) fell by 12,000 over the past decade, thanks to prevention education: Put babies to sleep on their backs; don't smoke during pregnancy (or after); avoid objects and loose bedding in cribs.

But more babies could be saved if additional precautions are taken, says John Kattwinkel, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia Medical Center. The newest advice for keeping your baby safe:

• Let him sleep in your room  -- but not your bed. It's fine to nurse and snuggle together there, but put your baby in a crib in your room or in a bassinet that attaches to your bed before you both fall asleep.

• Make sure everyone who watches your baby  -- including daycare providers  -- knows never to put him to sleep on his tummy. Back-sleeping babies who are switched to tummy-sleeping have up to 18 times greater risk of dying from SIDS.

• Skip anti-SIDS monitors. There's no evidence that they work.

• Consider using a pacifier. Studies show that they can protect against SIDS. It's fine to start around one month (if breastfeeding is going well); after six months, there's no anti-SIDS benefit.

• Opt for a crib bumper that's firm plastic rather than plush, if you're going to use one. Cushy bumpers are like soft pillows, which increase SIDS risk.

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