Monday, August 8, 2011

Child care facilities must place infants on backs for naps

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCUR) - Licensed child care facilities in Missouri must now place infants on their backs during nap time. The new law, effective this month, aims to reduce the number of infant deaths in the state.

The change has been a long-time coming.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended fifteen years ago, that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Since then, the rate of SIDS has gone down by more than 50 percent nationwide.

Cheryl Herzog Arneill, with the Missouri organization SIDS resources, says that's because placing infants on their backs ensures they have an open airway.

"When a baby is not positioned on their backs for sleep, they have less ability to lift their head and get out of threatening positions," Arneill said. "If any type of loose bedding or soft fluffy material – even a bumper pad in the crip – would get too close to infant airway, the buildup of carbon dioxide or exhaled air could actually trigger a sids episode."

Under Missouri’s new law, the state’s more than 3,000 licensed child-cares must place infants less than 12 months old on their backs to sleep. Arneill says that’s significant because SIDS deaths are disproportionately high in child-care settings.

She says Missouri's new law is critical, even though it doesn't apply to the state's thousands of legal but unlicensed child cares.

"We're hopeful, though, that this news will really spread within the child-care community and most people will know and understand the importance of back-to-sleep," Arneill said.

Between 2006 and 2009, there were 187 SIDS deaths in the state. Nationwide, the number of SIDS deaths dropped by more than fifty percent, after the U.S. launched a Back to Sleep Campaign in the early nineties.

Elana Gordon, KCUR


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