Safety and Health Risks

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS (crib death) is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 12 months.  The vast majority of these occur under the age of 6 months.

While we don’t know what causes SIDS, we do know that by allowing the baby to sleep on the back or side, you lower the chances by 50%.

By avoiding cigarette smoke exposure can cut the chances by another 25%.  These are two simple things you can do that can cut in half the chances of your child dying in the first year from SIDS.  You need to be aware of this and take the necessary precautions.

Fever

A second significant risk to infants under 2 months of age is fever.  A baby’s immune system in the first 2 months is still very immature; therefore babies less than 2 months old are very susceptible to infection.  An infection could turn serious and possibly fatal to babies less than 2 months old.

The fever itself is harmless, but a fever in a baby under 8 weeks old can be the first and only sign of a serious, life threatening infection.  For this reason, we take seriously any fever in a young infant.  As a precaution, we typically admit babies less than 2 months with a documented fever directly to the hospital for observation and work-up for fever.

Fever is defined as 100.4 degrees rectally (in the bottom).  Don’t check a temperature unless you suspect a problem, but if you do note a fever, you should call us immediately.  Chances are it is just a virus, but we won’t know for sure unless we do the necessary studies usually in an inpatient hospital setting.

A fever means the body temperature is above normal.  Your child has a fever if:
•    The rectal temperature is over 100.4° F (38° C)
•    The armpit temperature is over 99.0° F (37.2°C)
•    The ear temperature is over 100.4°F (38° C)

When should I call the doctor?

If your child has any of the warning signs listed below:

Under 2 months old:  Call your doctor right away if your baby’s temperature goes over 100.4° F rectally, even is he/she does not seem sick.  Babies this young can get very sick very quickly.

2 to 3 months old:  Call your doctor is your baby has a temperature of 100.4° F (even if your baby does not seem sick) or a temperature of 99.5° F that has lasted more than 24 hours.

3 months and older:  If your child has a fever of 101.4° F, watch how he/she acts.  Call your doctor if the fever rises or lasts for more than 3 days.  In children 3 months to 2 years of age, if the temperature is 102° F, call your doctor, even if your child seems to feel fine

Infections

Infections come from people.  Infections cause fever.  So if you want to avoid fever in your child under 8 weeks of age, you must avoid people and places with a lot of people.  This should not be a time for social gatherings for the baby.  Have a coming out party at 2 months.

Limit contacts for the baby to only people you know are well.  Make sure you make everyone wash his/her hands before holding the baby.  Keep your baby away from other kids that do not live in your home (kids seem to always carry some kind of bug).  Avoid public places where you will be known.  Go to the grocery store at off times.  Take turns going to church without the baby.  You get the idea.  A little precaution here may save a lot of trouble in the long run.

Safety Tips

Bed and Sleeping
Remember the importance of the back sleep position and to continue to protect your baby from cigarette smoke exposures.  Remember, the safest places for a baby to sleep are in a crib or bassinet.  Use only a light blanket for covering.  To prevent the risk of suffocation, avoid pillows, stuffed animals, or thick blankets.  Make sure the crib or bassinet for your baby is in a safe location.  It should not be too near a heater.  Make sure the sides are always completely up.  The baby crib and mattress must meet government standards.  Cribs with slats more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart can lead to injury.

Many parents sleep with the newborn in their bed.  This is not recommended.  There have been cases of suffocation and inadvertent smothering.


Car Seats
People are attuned to the need for car seats today but studies show that most people still use them incorrectly.  Read the instructions!  Remember to have them face the rear of the vehicle, keep them away from air bags, and keep them in the back seat.

An approved car seat is the safest way for babies to travel in cars.  In fact, infant car seats are required by law.  Infant car seats should be placed in the back seat with the infant facing backwards.  Never leave your baby alone or with young children or pets.

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