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Sharon Spittler, Fargo, Published October 20 2012

Letter: SIDS awareness month under way

October is SIDS Awareness Month, and the March of Dimes is encouraging North Dakotans to reduce babies’ exposure to secondhand smoke – a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the unexpected and unexplained death of a baby under 1 year of age while sleeping.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of women, infants and children by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year of age, and most SIDS cases occur in babies between 2 and 4 months old. Most SIDS deaths occur in the winter.

The cause of SIDS is unknown, but risk factors include exposure to cigarette smoke while in the womb or after birth. In fact, babies exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die from SIDS than babies not exposed to secondhand smoke. Other possible causes of SIDS include premature birth, sleeping on the stomach and soft bedding in the child’s crib.

March of Dimes supports efforts to reduce babies’ exposure to secondhand smoke and decrease the rate of infant death. For more information on recommended SIDS prevention strategies, please visit www.marchofdimes.com/baby/care_indepth.html.

Spittler is a board member, March of Dimes North Dakota Chapter.