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SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME Each week, 3 babies die of SIDS in Canada. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as Crib Death, refers to the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant less than one year of age. Such deaths usually occur while the child is sleeping and remain unexplained even after a full investigation. Nobody knows how to prevent SIDS, but the latest research shows that there are things you can do to make your baby safer Sleeping Position SIDS is less common in babies who sleep on their back. Put your baby to sleep on his or her back on a firm flat surface. You do not need anything special to do this. Babies who sleep on their back are not more likely to choke. Some babies have a medical problem that means they must sleep on their tummy. Ask your doctor which position is best for your child. When the baby is awake and being watched, some "tummy time" is necessary for the baby's development. This will also avoid temporary flat spots which sometimes develop on the back of their head from lying on their back. Older babies may be able to turn on their own from their back to their tummy. It is not necessary to force babies to sleep on their back when they are able to turn from their back to their tummy on their own. Avoid soft mattresses, fluffy pillows, comforters, stuffed toys and bumper pads in the baby's crib as these could prevent proper air circulation around your baby's face. Plastics, such as the manufacturer's mattress wrapping, may also prevent air circulation, and should be removed to reduce the risk of SIDS and also suffocation. “Bedsharing” is a common practice for many families. However, the risk of SIDS will not necessarily be reduced if your baby sleeps in the same bed as a parent, brother or sister. In fact, the risk of SIDS increases if the baby sleeps with a person who smokes. Your baby is also at risk if the person has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs that may make them less able to respond to the baby. A Smoke- and Drug-Free Environment Create a smoke- and drug-free environment for your baby before and after birth. Avoid using drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, crack, cocaine and heroin if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding. No one should smoke near your baby, not only for your baby's health, but also to reduce the risk of SIDS. Dressing Baby for Sleep Keep your baby warm — not hot. Babies need to be warm, but they should not become too hot. If the room temperature is right for you, it's right for the baby, too. To check if your baby is too hot, place your hand on the back of his or her neck. Your baby should not be sweating. Use lightweight blankets which you can add or take away according to the room temperature. Breastfeeding Breastfeeding is good for your baby. Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. It has many benefits and may give some protection against SIDS. It is really important that parents who have lost a child due to SIDS should not blame themselves. Until the cause or causes of SIDS are found, research can only show us how to reduce the risks. Tips 1. Put your baby on his or her back to sleep. 2. Make sure no one smokes around your baby. 3. Avoid putting too many clothes and covers on your baby. 4. Breastfeed your baby, it may give some protection against SIDS Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) There's a lot to know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD. Here are answers to some of the questions often asked about FASD. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term that describes a range of disabilities that may affect people whose mothers drank alcohol while they were pregnant. The diagnoses of FASD are: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS) alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD) How do you get FASD? The only way someone can get FASD is if their mother drank alcohol when she was pregnant. Alcohol causes brain damage in the developing baby. THERE IS NO SAFE AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL DURING PREGNANCY. There is also no safe TIME to drink alcohol during pregnancy. There is no gene for FASD! This means that a mother who is diagnosed with FASD will not pass it to her child if she does not drink when she is pregnant. Can FASD be cured? Unfortunately, FASD cannot be cured. People live with FASD for their entire life. However, people with FASD can still do very well with helpful supports and services. Some examples include special education, vocational programs, tutors, structured environments, and lifelong care. They can find paid work or go to school if given special assistance. What's different about the way people with FASD may behave? If women drink when they are pregnant, their babies may have brain damage. This means that children and adults who are affected may have a hard time learning and controlling their behaviour. For example, they may appear to learn how do to a new task one day, and not remember the next. Other common problems include having trouble: adding, subtracting and handling understanding consequences of money their actions thinking things through / reasoning remembering things, and learning from experience getting along with others. Because of their disabilities, people who are affected by FASD may have special needs that require life long help - even throughout adulthood - regarding: handling money, such as paying rent and buying food learning from their experiences and making changes in their behaviour understanding consequences of their behaviour, or "cause and effect" interacting with other people socially, and keeping a job. Affected people may develop mental health problems, have trouble with the law, drop out of school (or be disruptive in a classroom), are unemployed and/or may develop alcohol and drug problems. They may even be homeless. We also know that people with FASD may be very good at many things. They may be loving, affectionate, friendly, artistic, musical, work well with animals and plants, be very loyal and show a great determination to succeed in life! How much drinking by the biological mother can cause FASD? Alcohol causes brain damage in the developing baby. THERE IS NO SAFE AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL DURING PREGNANCY. There is also no safe TIME to drink alcohol during pregnancy. We know that a baby's brain is very sensitive to alcohol while it is developing, but we don't know how much alcohol it takes to cause damage. Research shows that children born to mothers who drank as little as 1 drink per day during pregnancy, may have behaviour and learning problems. Binge drinking - or drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time - is especially damaging to the developing baby. Stopping or cutting down drinking alcohol while pregnant will make the baby healthier. No alcohol during pregnancy is the best (and the safest!) choice for having a healthy baby. If you are planning a pregnancy or not using reliable birth control, avoid alcohol. Remember that friends, family and community members can all help a pregnant woman not to drink during pregnancy. How do you know if you have FASD? Anyone may have FASD if their biological mother drank alcohol during pregnancy and they may have problems with learning, remembering things, attention span, communicating, doing math and/or controlling their behaviour. People with FASD may be small, their faces may look different, and they may have vision and/or hearing problems. It is sometimes confused with developmental delays and behavioural difficulties. Only a specially-trained doctor can tell for sure and give a complete diagnosis. How many people have FASD? FASD affects approximately 1% of people living in Canada. This means that there may be about 300,000 living in Canada today with FASD. People of all ages may be affected. Can biological fathers cause FASD? No. FASD can be caused only when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy and the baby is exposed to alcohol before it is born. However, it is known that women with partners who drink are more likely to drink themselves during pregnancy, so a big role for future fathers is to support the women's choice not to drink during pregnancy. Does drinking during breastfeeding cause FASD? No. Again, FASD can be caused only by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. But, if you drink alcohol while breastfeeding, alcohol passes into the breast milk and the baby drinks it. The baby's brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) continue to grow after birth, and can be affected by alcohol. Studies show that alcohol in breast milk interferes with the mother's milk production and causes babies to eat less and to sleep less. Breastfeeding mothers who choose to drink alcohol after giving birth should carefully plan a feeding schedule. They could do this by pumping and storing milk before drinking and/or waiting until all of the alcohol is out of their bodies before breastfeeding. Prevention of FASD FASD can be prevented! Alcohol use during pregnancy is the only cause for this disability. If you're pregnant, or planning to be pregnant, don't drink alcohol. If you need help to stop drinking, look for someone who works in the addictions field to help you. If you are the partner, family member or friend, you can support a pregnant woman by not drinking, and encouraging her not to drink alcohol at this time. Drug-Affected Babies Of all infants born, an estimated 1 in 10 are exposed to illegal drugs before birth. Approximately 550,000 to 750,000 babies born each year have some symptoms of drug and/or alcohol exposure. Because of the problems with detecting and reporting drug use among childbearing populations, the exact number of infants affected by drugs in very hard to determine. Parental drug use has life-changing effects on the child. Some effects may be temporary while others may span throughout the child’s life, affecting physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. Symptoms The health of a drug-affected infant depends on the types and amounts of drugs used by the mother during pregnancy. Drug use may result in the infant’s abnormal development. Children who weigh under five-and-a-half pounds at birth have more risk of serious medical and developmental problems. The risk of premature birth (at less than thirty-seven weeks) is also higher in drug affected infants. Infants who weigh less than three pounds at birth are more likely to have health, behavior, and attention problems when they are of school age. Drugs used by the mother during pregnancy cross the placenta and can be harmful to the fetus. In general, Health conditions of drug- exposure to drugs in the early stages of fetal growth affected infants depend on the affects the development of organs and the central types and amounts of drugs nervous system. Exposure later in pregnancy affects used by the mother during physical growth and mental and behavioral pregnancy. development. Therefore, since the fetus is constantly growing, there is no time at which drug exposure can be considered safe or healthy. After birth, when the infant is no longer exposed to the drug(s), he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms that require medication. Fever, sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures have been reported. Infants who were exposed to stimulants may be tired for the first few days. These infants easily tend to become over-stimulated, and exhibit extreme shifts in behaviors (from sleeping to crying loudly in a matter of seconds). Often these behaviors lessen over time and disappear in the toddler years. Drug-affected infants may also experience the following symptoms: - Uncontrollable shakes (tremors) - Exposure to infections or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by mother - Increased risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs) - Difficulty breathing - Inability to eat properly when hungry - Loss of contact with parents, especially if placed in intensive care - Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and touch - Difficulty responding to new stimuli, focusing attention, and processing information Child Development Drug-affected infants may also have the Failure to thrive disorder, which includes weight loss (or very slow weight gain) and failure to reach developmental markers. By early childhood, the child experiences unpredictable sleeping patterns, atypical social interactions, delayed language development, and poor fine-motor skills. The prenatal effects of drugs may also cause hyperactivity, short attention spans, mood swings, and difficulties understanding sights and sounds. The prenatal effects of drugs may follow the child throughout his or her elementary and teenage years, Prenatal drug exposure may although the long-term effects of prenatal drug use have lead to later difficulties in not been extensively researched. Studies funded by the emotional behavioral National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) have just begun to link prenatal drug exposure to later behavioral management and social and learning difficulties. interactions in the classroom Research suggests that the drugs-affected infants’ behavioral problems—such as inability to tune emotions, focus, and stay on task—cause these children to perform poor in school. Additional research in which lab rats were prenatally exposed to cocaine shows the ability of drugs to change activity in areas of the brain associated with the learning, memory, motivation, motor control and sensory processes. Research also implies that drug effects may get worse when paired with poor maternal care, an unhealthy home environment, and/or other developmental deficits. Environmental Issues Drug-affected infants are also more likely to suffer from child abuse and neglect by their parents. Parents who use drugs may be more concerned about the drugs than their child. Not only do drugs interfere with the parents’ ability to care for the child, but children born exposed or addicted to drugs require more care than healthy infants. The average cost of medical Additional care includes: care for one drug affected newborn in the US was - providing a calm environment (low $11,188 in 1997 twice that of lighting; soft voices) an infant not exposed to - recognizing signs of distress before drugs. the actual states occur - employing calming techniques such as blanketing, rocking, massage - using one stimulus at a time when working on developmental activities - gradually increasing the types of developmental activities the child needs and the time spent on such activities. Note: The Drug-Affected Demonstrator Baby we see in class realistically represents the size a drug-affected infant would be when released from the hospital—not at birth. This is the point at which parents or caregivers would start to care for a real drug-affected infant. The Drug-Affected demonstrator is NOT designed to demonstrate the precise behaviors of drug-affected infants because there is much variation in the appearance and behavior of such infants. These depend on: - Type of drug used by the parent - Degree of drug use - Prenatal care received - Nutrition during pregnancy - Mother’s general state of health The behavior of the Drug-Affected Demonstrator is mild when compared to some real drug-affected infants. The tremors and crying mimic that of a real drug-affected infant. While the Drug-Affected Demonstrator’s behavior can be controlled by the on/off switch, it is important to realize that infants affected by drugs may tremble much more often and my cry for hours.
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