Tag Archives: Safe Sleep

Safe Sleep Advice (Pedcast)

 

 

As a pediatrician who spends most of his or her time giving advice to parents with young children, I often wonder how much of what I tell parents really has an effect on their behavior?  I try so hard to be up to date on the information and advice that I offer and yet, does it really matter? Does it really change their thinking and behavior? Pediatricians see, all the time, when parents don’t listen to what we advice, be it injuries from a backyard trampoline, use of cold and cough meds in young children, or feeding their children a diet high in highly processed foods.

 

Given all that, it was with great interest that I recently came across a study that looked at whether parents listen to the advice that we give them about “Safe Sleep” practices for very young infants. Continue reading

Essential Info about your Baby’s Head Shape (Pedcast)

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Transcript: Essential Info about your Baby’s Head Shape (Pedcast)

-Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, your reliable source of information for parents about a wide range of pediatric parenting and health topics ranging from the bassinet to the boardroom.

-Thank you for joining me today.

– I am your host and the founder of DocSmo.com…Dr Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician with 30 years of private practice under my belt.

-These “pedcasts” are intended to bring parents useful practical information about important pediatric topics.  A supplement to your child’s regular office  visits with their health-care provider.

-This is the kind of discussion your pediatrician would like to have with you if they had unlimited time during your child’s health supervision visits.

-I want to stress that by making this podcast, I am not intending to give specific medical advice for your child, rather general information on the topic of the day which today is “What parents need to know about head shape in babies.”

 

-Parents often worry about their baby’s head shape…especially in the first year of life.

-First, we have all the consequence of the birth process… and what a process it is.

-Babies usually come head first into the birth canal, first hitting the hard bones of Mom’s pelvis, then squeezing through Mom’s cervix and vagina.

-Bruising and molding of the skull bones are almost inevitable as a consequence of these processes.

-Many parents are startled and frightened by the molding and bruising their infant is born with but rarely are these a serious concern.

-With the rapid brain and skull growth that occur in the first few months of life, the distorted shape of a newborn’s skull rapidly disappears…unless they spend so much time on their backs in monotonous positions that flattening starts to occur in the back of their little heads.

 

– The medical term for this one sided flattening is plagiocephaly and pediatricians definitely started seeing more of this deformity after the back to sleep campaign started in the US…that’s the recommendation to always have babies sleep on their backs on a safe surface whenever they are unattended.

-Not only can plagiocephaly be a cosmetic problem, but some feel that with enough asymmetry of the skull can come along vision problems since, with enough forward shift one side of the face,  one eye may be in a different plane than the other.  A similar process is thought to possibly cause jaw problems since the mandible may not fit properly on the skull if the upper face is not symmetric.

 

-Everyone agrees that flattening of one side of the skull is something that we want to avoid.

-It can persist into adult life if it is severe.

-Here is what you can do to avoid problems with your baby’s head

         -Start doing tummy time, as soon as your little bundle of joy comes home from the hospital.

         -Try and turn your infant’s head to alternating sides when you lay them down for sleep as soon as you get home from the hospital.

         -Try to get Tummy time, supervised of course, for 30-60 minutes a day on a firm, safe sleep surface…for more on that, I remind you to check out my pod cast on “Safe sleep”

         -If your child always wants to lay on the same side of their head, they probably are doing so because of a cramped womb position.  Have your pediatrician check their neck for tightening or stiffness.  Should this be present, have them show you some exercises to help alleviate this tightening or have them send you to a physical therapist for this purpose.

 

-Here are some things you should not do in an attempt to help your infant’s head shape are:

         – Let your infant sit in a car seat or any seat for that matter  for long periods of time in the same position.

         -You should not buy devices to hold your baby in a certain position to lower pressure on his or her head.  These devices are well intentioned and may work, but their safety is always a concern.  Experts recommend that they not be used.

         -When using tummy time, never leave your child unattended even for a second.

 

-It has been my experience that the flattening can be avoided if parents are proactive with Tummy time and be careful not to miss neck stiffness.

-Should the flattening occur despite your efforts, referral to an specialist in head orthotics should be made by 6 months of age.  They will help you decide if your infant needs a skull-molding helmet to reshape their head.

-These helmets are expensive and don’t always work especially if not put on by 6 months so remember the DocSmo pearl…. Prevention trumps treatment almost every time.

 

 

– I hope the new parents in my audience today found this pedcast useful.

– The head shaping helmets I referenced in the pedcast cost between $1500-$4000 in my community and are not always covered by insurance so by listening to DocSmo today, potentially I may have saved your family a significant chunk of change… all in a days work.

-If you found this and other pedcasts useful, go ahead and take the plunge.  Subscribe on itunes, like DocSmo on face book or follow us on twitter.

-Currently, all of my content is available for free at my website, www.DocSmo.com.

-And don’t forget to check out my Smo Notes posted at my website where you can find reliable reference material with a simple click of the mouse.

-As always, this is your host, Dr Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E, that’s the first child’s bedroom on the east side of the house, protecting you from the dread of having a child with a misshapen head.

 

Until next time.

Smo Notes:

Clinical Report: Prevention and Management of Positional Skull Deformities in infants, Pediatrics Volume 128, Number 6, December 2011

 

*By listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to Doc Smo’s terms and conditions.

 

All Rights Reserved.

Safe Sleep Environment for Infants 2011 (Pedcast)

This podcast is part of the Essential Series for parents with newborns and infants.  Knowing the dos and don’ts when it comes to safe sleep environment for infants is something that parents must master.   Sleep associated deaths may, to a large degree, may be preventable.  Listen to what experts feel is the safest environment for babies to sleep.

Transcript:

Intro:
-Welcome
-I created this podast in order to bring parents useful information they can use to help their children from the crib to the country club, from the bassinette to the board room.
-This episode is part of my essential knowledge edition of DocSmo
-Today we are going to talk about the new recommendations, appropriate for most babies, from the Academy of Pediatrics regarding Safe Sleep Practices for infants.
-A task force, working for the AAP, consisting of academic pediatricians. Reviewing available data and making recommendations based on available evidence and some opinion, albeit informed opinion.
-So get ready and sharpen up your pencils if you are a new parents bringing a newborn home from the hospital. I have some detailed recommendations for you hot off the AAP press. Important since deaths during sleep are the most common cause of death in infants during the first year of life!!! Pay close attention and learn what the experts at the AAP think constitutes the safest sleep environment for infants.
-Let me remind my listeners that, I am not your child’s doctor and for specific advice regarding your child, consult the wonderful person you call your child’s doctor.

First some definitions so we are all on the same page;

Our discussion today revolves around deaths that occur in infants during sleep time in the first year of life after they have transitioned from the birth process. These fall into a few categories;
-APNEA is the medical term for lack of breathing that is centrally mediated, that is, your brain forgetting to breath…common in premature infants before they have mature centers in their brain’s to control breathing, especially during sleep. Remember, no need for breathing in the womb so many immature premies just forget to breath…especially if they are asleep.
-SIDS Sudden infant Death Syndrome- Any sleep associated infant death that cannot be explained after a thorough medical investigation that includes an autopsy, toxin screens, metabolic tests…no trauma, no sickness, no suffocation etc. Presumably, the terminal event in a SIDS death is an apneic spell.

-SUID Sudden Unexpected Infant Death- Any sleep associated sudden death of an infant whether explained or unexplained which includes SIDS deaths as well as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, infection, ingestions, metabolic diseases, cardiac deaths, and trauma whether accidental or non accidental.

-New distinctions about sleep related deaths depend not only on traditional medical information like autopsy and lab tests but also on scene investigation. In recent years, a new tool that can explain many of these sleep associated deaths.

The goal of the new emphasis on safe sleep environments is to eliminate all sleep associated deaths in infants, whether they be SIDS type or SUID type. Here is the consensus of the AAP experts of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to a safe place for your infant to when they are unattended–Hot off the press.

Do’s
-Except in rare cases, Back to sleep for EVERY sleep in the first year. Not side, not elevated, not in or on a device such as a wedge.
– Your babies “sleep surface” should be firm and conform to Consumer Product Safety standards for ALL sleeping, day and night.
-Your babies mattress should have no gaps around the edges (suffocation risk) and should only be covered by a fitted sheet…no loose bedding, no toys, no bumpers
-Dress your baby in light, comfortable clothing such as a one-piece sleeper in a room that is between 68-72 with no more than one layer more than that which would make an adult comfortable. No clothing that can get near the babies face.
-Breastfeed your infant
-Consider using a pacifier after breastfeeding is established.
-Put your infant’s crib or sleep surface in the room with the parents for the first 4-6 months?
-Its OK to put your baby down on their tummies for supervised Tummy Time everyday as soon as you get home to prevent flat spot on head however, this time must be supervised and follow the same rules I just outlined except the child is on their tummy rather than back.

Don’ts of sleep;
-NEVER Use pillows, soft bedding, sheep skins, quilts, pajamas with hoods, or blankets that can get near a babies face. If a blanket absolutely has to be used, tuck it firmly under the mattress so it cannot get loose.
-Crib should be free of loose toys or mobiles that can be reached. And nothing should be tied to the baby like jewelry or pacifier tether.
-No co sleeping. Feeding at night…must go back into crib. Infants should not sleep with siblings, parents, strangers, or anyone.
-Do not rely on monitors… cardio respiratory or any other type.
– Do not use a crib that has any broken or mended parts
-NEVER let a baby sleep on an adult who is drowsy or asleep
-NEVER let a infant sleep in a device that covers their face.
– Do not leave your baby to sleep in a car seat or carrier
– NEVER smoke before or after your baby is born
-Never use drugs or alcohol while caring for your baby

Easier said than done. I recently got a note from a Mom with a now 3 month old late preterm infant and you could hear the angst in her note. Let me read a portion of it for you. ” …it can be very frustrating as a parent (trying to preserve one’s own sanity) when doctors make these rulings that are not so easy to execute in the trenches!- Like –Never doze with your baby!! No toys in the bed!! Car seat MUST face back (This mom is particularly distressed when I’m alone with a young baby in the car!) Or—Sleeping in unapproved device may result in DEATH! Never leave baby unattended!!(How do I go to the bathroom, she asks??) She goes onto to say, It’s enough to make anyone lose their marbles. I know doctors just want the best for us, but take pity on us poor sleep deprived parents!”
– Here is hoping that you don’t lose your marbles. We need all the healthy, energetic healthy parents we can get to raise this next generation.

– If you want to read the full Academy of Pediatrics recommendations about safe sleeping environments, check out the references in the Smo Notes.
-Thanks for joining us today.
-Take the plunge and subscribe for your free pediatric education by getting the RSS feed from DocSmo.com or signing up on iTunes, Facebook or twitter.
-Remember this is a blog so your comments are welcome and may possibly be posted for others to ponder and comment on.
-This is your podcast host, Dr Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, NC… hoping it is not a great leap for you to provide a safe place for your infant to sleep!

-Until next time

Smo Notes:

1.  Charlotte Observer- safeSleepPoster.pdf (application/pdf Object)-http://www.charlotteobserver.com/images/graphics/post/safeSleepPoster.pdf

2.  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds.2011-2284.full.pdf+html

3. http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;116/5/1245#SEC15

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*By listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to Doc Smo’s terms and conditions.

 

All Rights Reserved.

Lunchroom Lowdown- Safe Sleep Guidelines for Infants 2011 (Article)

 

I convened a “lunchroom lowdown” the other day on the topic of new AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines, and my partners eagerly offered their opinions and impressions when it comes to safe sleep for infants. My partners–Drs. Plonk, Riley, Downing, and Moorman–are outstanding doctors, and I can’t thank them enough for sharing their expertise with me.  Let me try to summarize our conversation about “Safe Sleep for Infants.”

 

A lot of the discussion revolved around the practicality of running a household with three or four children following the new recommendations.  I think all the doctors felt that the guidelines are good goals but are not always practical.  Dr. Riley doubts that parents can always be present when their infant is asleep.  Also, can the surface they sleep on always be on a “sleep safe surface” as outlined in the guidelines?  Probably not. Dr. Plonk wonders what happens when an infant falls asleep in a swing or car seat: should they always be awakened and moved to a safe place?  Again, unlikely.  Dr. Downing thinks that it is very unlikely that after a child feeds in their parents’ bed that the child will always be put back onto a safe surface by an exhausted, half-asleep mother.  Since only one person is supposed to be in the bed with the infant, does that mean Dad gets exiled with every feeding?  Dr. Downing doesn’t think that will happen, and neither do I.

 

Drs. Plonk and Riley felt that not only are some of the guidelines impractical, but some are ambiguous.  The “no monitor recommendation” seems to imply not to use audio or video monitors; why?  If not, do parents need to watch their children sleep 24/7 in person? What about that “no over-bundling recommendation” (not to use more than one layer more than would make an adult comfortable)?  How many layers are in a swaddle?  Is swaddling with a large blanket now forbidden?

 

 

 

Dr. Downing felt that the new guidelines are excellent recommendations, but wondered if they will change very many parents’ behavior.  We all know how difficult it is to change someone’s behavior.  There was uniform agreement that despite the new guidelines’ impracticality and potential ambiguity, overall the AAP’s new guidelines for safe sleep are a big step forward for children.

 

As we were discussing this topic, the thought crossed my mind that hospitals should be the number one place where these guidelines are followed, but that is often not the case.  Hospitals should be setting the best example for parents and physicians.  If anyone should know what actually happens in a hospital, it is the group at the Lunchroom Lowdown; combined, we have over 100 years worth of hospital nursery experience.   We know what goes on in hospital nurseries.  Many of the guidelines are not being followed on a routine basis to this day.  For instance, twins are often put in one bassinet together (“Babies should sleep on a safe surface by themselves”).  Babies are routinely swaddled with multiple wraps (“No more than one layer above others in the room”) and placed on their sides (“Back only”).  Additionally, the bassinets have solid sides which could get up against a baby’s nose and cause obstruction (“No surfaces near a baby’s face that can cause suffocation”).  It is not unusual for lovies to be placed in the crib from the day a child is born (“No toys”).  What about those cute little hats that almost every newborn wears: could it get down over a child’s face? You bet. Finally, the move toward infant bonding, skin to skin, and rooming-in encourages very exhausted moms and dads to hold their newborns when everyone may be very sleepy (“No sleeping on unsafe surfaces”).  Hospitals, let’s get with the program!

 

The death of a otherwise healthy infant is a terrible thing, and the new guidelines are a big step toward making such an event a thing of the past.  When you really dig down into the recommendations, you begin to see how difficult they are to follow at all times.  Let’s hope that both parents and hospitals can do a better job in the future of providing the safest sleep possible for our newest citizens we call our children!