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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – What You Need to Know [Podcast]

Posted February 24, 2022

Listen to this episode of the Healthy Vitals Podcast.

Karen Frantz DeSeptis and Ericka Malone lead a discussion on SIDS, and important information you need to know.

Featured Guests:

Ericka Malone | Karen Frantz DeSeptis, BSN RNC

Ericka Malone is a Community Health Worker at Summa Health Center for Health Equity

Karen Frantz DeSeptis, BSN RNC is Women's Health Service Case Manager.


Scott Webb: Most parents have heard of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS, but SIDS is actually a form of sudden unexpected infant death or SUID. And my guests today are certified registered nurse, Karen Frantz. She's a Women's Health Service Case Manager with Summa Health.

I'm also joined by Erica Malone. She's a community health worker at the Summa health center for health equity works.

And we're going to talk about SIDS and SUID on today's podcast.

This is Healthy Vitals, a podcast from Summa Health. I'm Scott Webb. So it's great to have you both on here today. As we get rolling here, Karen, I want to have you define sudden unexpected infant death, and also the more commonly known sudden infant death syndrome, probably better known as SIDS.

Karen Frantz: Sudden unexpected infant death syndrome is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than one year old in which the case was not obvious before an investigation. And these deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby sleep area. And one type of sudden unexpected infant death, and we call that SUID, is SIDS. And SIDS is the sudden death of an infant younger than one year of age and we can not explain what the death is even after a full investigation, which would include an autopsy, examination of the death scene and then review the clinical history.

And babies are at risk of SIDS until they're one year old. But most SIDS deaths occur with babies that are between one month and four months of age. And SIDS is not a health concern for babies older than one year of age. And although we don't know the cause of SIDS, it might be associated with defects in the portion of the infant brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep. And babies are at higher risk for SIDS if they sleep on their stomach, if they sleep on soft surfaces, if they get too hot when they sleep, if they are exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb or in their environment, or if they sleep in an adult bed. And three babies die each week while sleeping due to unsafe sleep practices in Ohio. And Ohio has the eighth highest infant death rate in the country. And most of these deaths are preventable by following the ABCD and E of safe sleep practices.

Scott Webb
: Yeah. Well, that's a great foundation there, Karen. I appreciate that. And good to understand here that SIDS is a type of SUID and we're going to refer to it as SUID or SUIDs today. And I guess the next follow-up, you know, how many children die from SUID every year?

Karen Frantz
: About 3,400 babies in the United States die suddenly and unexpectedly each year from sewage. A thorough investigation is necessary to learn what caused these deaths. Sudden unexpected infant deaths include sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS, accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment and other deaths from unknown causes.

Scott Webb: Yeah. And I'm just trying to remember, my kids are a little bit older now they're a 13 and 18, but I do remember when they were little, especially up to one year, just on pins and needles. You know, always worried about them, always checking on them because of fear of SIDS and now trying to understand as well SUID.

So Erica turning to you, what are the causes of sewage?

Ericka Malone: One of the most important causes of sewage and see it is the position of the baby during sleep. There are many theories and philosophies. However, research suggests that, it's most important for the baby sleep position because they have difficulty arousing from sleep. Or if the baby is sleep face down that they may inhale carbon dioxide, or they may have their irritable.

There are many other contributing factors for this, for example, family history, in the U S we have a disproportionate number of nonwhite emphasizing from sewage and see it's, episodes yearly seeds in sewage, can also be the result of a combination of things such as the temperature of a room where the baby sleeps that can affect the baby's inability to wake up from sleep along with, whatever the baby is.

Stress. This is often when parents or other caregivers don't realize or comprehend what has happened. And in many cases, the baby is still the same position that it was placed in with a parent or caregiver them, lay them in a crib to sleep.

Scott Webb: Yeah. It's so good that we're doing this podcast to try to educate folks, which I know is a lot of education prevention going on at Summa.

Ericka Malone: Yes. That's correct.

Scott Webb: And as we move through this, you know, I know that SUIDs often happen during sleep or in a baby's sleep area as we've identified. Maybe you can review how parents or those caring for baby can use the ABCs of safe sleep.

Ericka Malone: The hospitals and full-term first birthday upgrade or Akron and initiative to support maternal and infant vitality. have been doing an excellent job of promoting safe sleep tips, including Summa. Of course, we've come together in a great way for this collective objective, the safe sleep tips we focus on started with the ABC.

And has now expanded to the ABC D ease of safe sleep. And I want to mention, that these are important to reinforce any and all times, to our community when the babies are asleep in their cribs, bassinet, or pack and play, and it's always safest for them to sleep on their backs. Here's a way to remember the ABCDs of safe sleep. A always put the babies alone, be on their back.

See an empty cribs without any objects, toys, or blankets. This is when we encourage parents and caregivers to dress babies and not the critics, preferably and safely facts. We'll get more into that a little bit later, and this is often a touchy subject or a touchy topic because of parents and.

Breastfeeding mothers often want to keep the babies in the beds with them for convenience. And we want to make sure that, you know, the babies aren't too close to the adults or accidentally getting covered up with the covers that are on the adults. Bed.

Babies need to sleep on their backs and contrary to old generational myths or different culture. Beliefs research has shown that over time. The babies can clear their throats and airways best on their backs because they have the ability to move their neck and their head. And that they're less likely to suffocate from their environment or, you know, spitting up when they're laying on their stomachs.

The C is for Korea is another major point for us to remember because baby should never sleep on a couch chair or car seats. They should never sleep with a dog. After each feeding, the babies need to be returned to their crib or bassinet or pack and play on their backs and can use pacifiers with no strings or clips attached.

The D is don't smoke. Research has shown that secondhand smoke as the baby's breathing issues, along with the smoke that slept in their clothes and your hair and on your hands. So we suggest that parents and caregivers need to make sure they're washing their hands. They brushed their teeth, changed their clothes when possible and shampoo their hair as often as possible.

After smoking to lessen the amount of smoke that the babies breathe in, people would be amazed at the amount of smoke that is held in their hair and on their clothes that can cause major damage to baby's lungs. Also, having a set smoking area in the home can cut down on the amount of smoke that gets trapped in the walls and furniture, curtains, and cards.

And washing walls and windows regularly also, helps cut down on, smoke inhalation. And then is the big one is to educate everyone. And it is something that each person in our community can do to help us save our babies and our SU Summa communities. I'm here today to challenge each listener, to put the word out about the ADCB, ease of safe sleep and.

Because entrance vitality truly takes a village. And that includes parents, grandparents, caregivers, babysitters, siblings, and anybody that has a body.

Scott Webb: Thank you for all of that and good to know that it's not just the ABCs anymore, that it goes all the way through E. and Karen, switching back to you. What are some of the other steps parents or adults that are caring for babies can do to reduce the risk of SUID?

Karen Frantz: First of all, they should get regular prenatal care during their pregnancy. So that would be a first step. We talked about smoking, but you want to avoid smoking, drinking alcohol or using marijuana or any illegal drugs during pregnancy and after the baby's born. If a mom does smoke, do you want to go outside. Make sure they wash their hands, brush their teeth, change their clothes when they pick up the baby when they come in.

And an important factor too is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for at least six months shows that it lowers the risk of SIDS. We want to have the baby sleep in the room, not the bed. You don't want to use any baby monitors or other commercial devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS, because we do not know that is true. And offer a pacifier, just make sure there's not a string or a stuffed animal attached to it. Make sure your baby goes to the well visits after the baby's born and vaccinate your baby. That's an important step.

When traveling, sometimes people don't think of this, but you want to have a safe place for your baby to sleep when you get there. And the last one that I think is important, at night, when you get up to feed and you're tired, you want to get out of bed, find a nice sturdy chair to sit in, so you don't doze off. And in case you are very sleepy, you can set your alarm on your phone to go off every five minutes to make sure that you're awake with that baby.

Scott Webb: Yeah, that's exactly what I used to do because you get up at three o'clock in the morning, you feed the. And it's very easy for mom and dad to just kind of doze off in not a great or ideal position for the baby and maybe mom and dad either.

Erika back to you.

Let's talk about how the SUID rate has declined since the '90s, which is encouraging, but there's significant racial and ethnic differences and they continue, right?

Ericka Malone: That is correct. The rates of sewage and is, has reduced since the beginning of the campaigns, which were roughly the 1990s when we started the major campaigns and, 2013. And they continue moving in the right direction with an exception of the higher occurrence of, African-American deaths due to sewage and see it, here in summit and Mahoning county specifically.

Non-Hispanic African-American babies are two and a half to three times more likely than non-Hispanic white babies to die of SIDS and sewage. This doesn't even factor in other disparities, such as marital status, socioeconomic status and or levels of education. Statewide the house minority leader, Emilia Sykes, now recognizes October as safe sleep and sudden infant death syndrome awareness month, which has become a tradition for us here in Ohio and a collaboration between our other hospital partners, Akron children's hospital, Cleveland clinic, Akron general, and Summa health systems to promote and donate materials, dedicated to safe sleep practices.

According to healthy people in 2030, the goal of Ohio's infant death rate is 5.0 prayerfully. By the end, it it'll be that such however, in 2019, the rate of white babies was 5.1 and black babies was 14.3, which is nearly three times the amount. So we can clearly see and feel the difference and understand why we need the community.

You know, to focus on our collective objectives of, getting healthy, happy babies, especially in African-American communities.

Scott Webb: Yeah, that is a huge disparity, from 5.1 to 14.3. That's alarming and so good to do things like this to try to educate everybody, all communities. So Karen, let's talk about that. What is Summa doing to provide education to parents and other caregivers to do their best to help prevent future SUIDs?

Karen Frantz: We are teaching all about safe sleep practices in our perinatal classes and in our centering classes. Centering is group prenatal visits. And when you come in to deliver at Summa, we ask you if you have a safe place to sleep for your infant. And if you don't, then we provide them with a Pack 'n Play. And we are partnered with Akron Children's Hospitals and Cribs For Kids to give them that. We review all safe sleep practices with all the parents and the families that come in. We actually have a crib set up in our visitors lounge that shows exactly how your baby should sleep. As gifts, we give out safe sleep sacks. And, as I said, one of the most important thing is educating everyone and Summa did receive the National Certified Gold Safe Sleep Champion Award for what we do.

Scott Webb
: Well, that's great. And I know that you're both kind of fighting the good fight here and doing it in different ways and different areas.

And so I want to give last word to you, Erica.

final word to you on your sort of neck of the woods

. What are you doing specifically there to educate?

Ericka Malone: being a community health worker with Summa health equity center. I, work with our pregnant and new moms in our centering pregnancy and parenting program. So in addition to the things that Karen spoke of about providing our moms with pack and plays and assisting them with car seats and helping them get connected to community resources, I, and, my staff here, we all focus on. Zip code hotspots, which we are finding have astronomically high, infant mortality rates for African-American babies, which are 4, 4, 3 0 4 4 3 0 4 3 1 0 and 4 4 3 2 0, which is where our office is. And we worked throughout the year with our various partners to help the mom stay educated, informed.

I also am a lactation consultant here with Suma and we assist mothers with breastfeeding practices, different things of that nature. And I help run and facilitate our centering classes where we talk about any and all aspects of birth, up and said delivery. And we've also partnered with.

Full-term first birthday of greater Akron, which I spoke of earlier, where we provide, different baby items and information resources to our moms in various zip codes through community-wide baby showers. Yeah, We do a lot to try to get our moms to become champion moms as well for various programs and partnerships that we have in the community, because it's nothing like getting,, the testimony of a mom who's gone through a similar situation or experience to help promote and encourage moms and other families and caregivers, you know, to always practice the ABCDs, the ease of safe sleep.

Scott Webb: Well, you all are doing amazing work. I found this to be really educational, just really understanding SUIDs and SIDS and the differences. Our goal, of course, is education and prevention. So thanks to you both and you both stay well.

Karen Frantz: Oh, thank you very much.

Scott Webb: Visit to learn more about Summa's programs and classes for new unexpecting parents. And if you found this podcast to be helpful and informative, please share it on your social channels and be sure to check out the full podcast library for additional topics of interest. This is Healthy Vitals, a podcast from Summa Health.

I'm Scott Webb. Stay well, and we'll talk again next time.

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