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Winter Months Increase SIDS Risk

Don't use too many blankets, doctors warn

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The cold winter months bring an increase in the number of infants who die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the National Institutes of Health.

During colder months, parents often place extra blankets or night clothes on infants, hoping to provide them with extra warmth. But the loving gesture could kill, doctors say.

"Parents and caregivers should be careful not to put too many layers of clothing or blankets on infants, as overheating increases the risk of SIDS," Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, says in a prepared statement.

The institute recommends that infants should be placed on their backs to sleep, on a firm mattress with no blankets or fluffy bedding under or over them. If a blanket is used, it should be placed no higher than a baby's chest and be tucked in under the crib mattress.

The baby's crib or sleep area should be free of pillows and stuffed toys, and the temperature in the baby's room should be kept at a level that feels comfortable for an adult.

Since the institute issued these recommendations, SIDS deaths in the United States have declined by more than 50 percent. SIDS -- the sudden, unexplained death of an infant in the first year of life -- still claims the lives of roughly 2,500 infants each year, and the causes of the syndrome are still unclear.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about SIDS.

SOURCES: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, news release, December 2003
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