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Child-care providers to get SIDS training

October 10, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

More than 100 area child-care providers will attend a mandatory two-hour workshop on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) Tuesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, SIDS occurs when an otherwise healthy infant younger than 1 dies suddenly, and the cause of death remains unexplained after a thorough investigation.

The state has required child-care providers to complete a SIDS workshop by January, said Dolores Harmon, regional director of the Maryland Department of Human Services. A representative from the state's Center for Infant & Chid Loss in Baltimore will conduct the training session at Frostburg State University's campus in downtown Hagerstown.

"We've done over 3,500 workshops across the state in the past year," center director Donna Becker said.

Child-care providers who complete the workshop will receive a certification in SIDS training, Becker said.

About 50 babies in Maryland die annually from SIDS, which is a decrease from an average of about 110 deaths per year in the early 1990s, Becker said.

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"One death is still too many," she said, adding the decline is due, in part, to the launch of a nationwide campaign called "Back to Sleep." The campaign was part of a push to teach parents and child-care providers to place babies on their backs when they put them to sleep, which reduces the risk of SIDS.

"I had one SIDS case back in 2002 in Washington County out of a total of five child deaths for that year," Becker said.

The CDC says SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS deaths occur when a baby is between 1 and 4 months old.

There are 360 family child-care providers - those who care for children in their home - and 62 child-care centers licensed in Washington County.

Of those, Citicorp Family Center is the largest center, providing care for approximately 40 infants and toddlers younger than 1. Sarah Bonise, director of the center, hopes to have her entire staff SIDS certified before the January deadline.

The center has a back-to-sleep policy, which requires teachers to place infants and toddlers on their backs when they're sleeping, said Gina Zeger, the center's program director. Exceptions only are allowed when parents or guardians complete the center's prepared release form, which clears the center of legal liability.

"It has to be signed by both parents plus a witness stating we can put the child to sleep on his or her stomach or on their side," Zeger said.

Teachers at the center are also required to check on sleeping infants every five minutes, she said.

Dr. Paul Shuster, a Hagerstown pediatrician, said he applauds the new policy in light of recent SIDS reports.

He said the risk for SIDS increases when children - accustomed to sleeping on their backs - suddenly are turned onto their stomachs by an uneducated day-care provider or caregiver.

"Roughly 20 percent of SIDS deaths occur when kids are in child-care or nonparental care, according to medical studies," said Shuster, who is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While the cause of SIDS still remains a mystery, several practices can help parents and caregivers reduce the risk.

"You should always place a baby on its back to sleep in a smoke-free environment, and there should be no toys or heavy blankets in a baby's crib," Becker said.

For more information on future workshops or how to avoid SIDS or other infant deaths, call 800-808-7437 or go to www.infantandchildloss.org on the Web.

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