A Senior Registrar in Paediatrics at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Dr. Chinwe Ogbonnaa-Njoku says placing babies to sleep on their backs reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old.
Speaking in an interview with press men, Dr. Ogbonnaa-Njoku said that based on recommendations, placing babies to sleep on their backs reduces the risk of SIDS.
She, however, said that when babies are able to roll over by themselves, they can be placed on their abdomen to sleep.
“The current recommendation based on available evidence is that the safest position for babies to sleep is on their backs, rather than on their abdomen or sides because it has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related deaths”.
“However, when babies are able to roll over by themselves both ways (back to stomach, stomach to back) which most babies achieve by six months, they can then be allowed to sleep on their abdomen.
“Other ways to reduce the risk of SIDS include making sure that babies sleep on a firm mattress, free of soft objects like toys or loose beddings that can increase the risk of suffocation or accidental strangulation.
“Also, babies under one year of age should sleep in the same room with their parents but not on the same bed. Babies should be dressed comfortably at bedtime, avoiding too many layers of clothing which can result in overheating,” she said.
Ogbonnaa-Njoku noted that avoidance of smoking during pregnancy and preventing people from smoking around babies can help to reduce SIDS.
“Exclusive breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS in babies,” she added.
According to an online health portal, Mayo Clinic, SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because infants often die in their cribs.
“Although the cause is unknown, it appears that SIDS might be associated with defects in the portion of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep,” the portal stated.