Borchardt Consulting

Posts Tagged ‘Infant Death

Summer is here and with it comes a steady stream of stories about babies and children being left in cars with tragic consequences.  But another overheating danger is rarely discussed:.  Babies overheating in strollers. It is a common sight to see a parent pushing a stroller, with a thin blanket or towel draped over to protect the child from the sun.  Covered Stroller

Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet decided to run an experiment  to find out just how it could get inside the stroller. They left a stroller out in the sun (without baby, naturally) between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on a hot day, initially without a covering blanket. The temperature inside the stroller reached 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 Fahrenheit). A thin blanket was then placed over the stroller for the following 30 minutes, after which the temperature soared to 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit). After an hour, the temperature was up to 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

This experiment was done without the added heat of baby’s own body temperature increasing the temperature.  Instead of protecting the baby from the sun, the parent is inadvertently increasing the danger to the baby. Depending on the design of the stroller, the air circulation may not be the best.  Add the increase in temperature and baby can become overheated.   Overheating also increases the risk for SIDS.

 

 

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Parents and Caregivers have many ways to combat their concerns for SIDS

Safe Sleep Baby

Safe Sleep Baby

(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and sleep related infant deaths.  As research progresses and we get nearer to finding the mechanical cause of sudden death in apparently healthy babies, we have identified many behaviors that parents and caregivers can use that dramatically reduce the likelihood of a sleep related infant death.

Patents can now feel empowered rather than frightened.  Remember to keep your babies safety first.

 

AAP   Recommendations

1: Back to sleep for every sleep2: Use a firm sleep surface

3: Room sharing without bed-sharing

4: No soft objects, loose bedding in crib

5: Prenatal care for pregnant women

6: Avoid smoke exposure

7: Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use

8: Breastfeeding

9: Pacifiers

10: Avoid overheating

11: Immunizations12: Avoid commercial devices marketed for SIDS reduction

13: No home cardiorespiratory monitors for SIDS reduction

14: Tummy time for awake infant

15: Endorsement of recommendations by providers, nurses, child care

16: Media and manufacturers follow safe sleep guidelines

17: National campaign on reducing all sleep related deaths, focus on minorities

18: Research and surveillance

I was reading an article from Australia where a coroner was making an impassioned  plea for parents to stop bed sharing with their infants.  This coroner had handled a number of recent infant deaths.  In all his cases the infants had been sleeping in the same bed with the parents on the night that the baby died.  The coroner ruled these deaths accidental suffocation.  He was pleading with the parents in Australia to stop putting their infants, especially those less than 6 months old in the adult bed with the parents.  His recommendation was to place the baby in a crib near the parent’s bed so that the baby could still be easily tended but keep baby in his or her own safe sleep space.

Breastfeeding is Best for Baby

This article was quickly responded to by a group of breastfeeding advocates.  The argument made by the advocates was “It’s not THAT dangerous”.  Holy smokes!  My head almost blew off.  Really, it’s not THAT dangerous!  Is that the best argument that you can make in response to numerous babies dying?  How many babies have to die before it’s considered “that dangerous”?As a mother who successfully, exclusively breastfed 3 babies, I am strongly in favor of breastfeeding as the best food for baby.  As a working mother, I completely understand how exhausting and  challenging it can be to breastfeed.  It takes real commitment. There is no question that it’s hard work.  Rewarding, but hard work.  As a parent, I get to make all the decisions for my baby.  As a parent, my primary responsibility is to keep my baby safe.  All else is secondary.

How many babies have to die before breastfeeding advocates rate bed sharing as dangerous enough?  I have heard from many parents who have successfully raised their babies through infancy while sleeping together.  They say, “It’s not dangerous.  I did it and my children are fine.”  That makes you lucky.  Not right.  It feels like these parents believe that they are somehow better, smarter, richer….something more than those poor parents who had a baby die.  Those unfortunate parents must be overweight, drug addicted, alcoholics.  Something must be WRONG with them.

Is it possible that we are putting the comfort of the mother ahead of the health and safety of the baby?  Remember, this is not a situation where the consequences for being wrong are minor.  The consequences for being wrong is your babies life!  I cannot figure out why any parent would risk their infants life when there is an inexpensive, simple alternative – a crib in the parent’s bedroom.

There are some pediatricians and anthropologists who argue that bed sharing with your baby is essential to bonding.  Baby must be alive to bond.  They quote lots of statistics about how mothers and babies have slept together from millennium.  Mothers, you have to understand that sometimes through evolution some behaviors are no longer necessary.  We no longer sleep in caves where we have to use our bodies to provide heat for our babies and keep them safe from maurading animals.  Our beds are now soft surfaces filled with more soft items like pillows, duvets, comforters and pillow toppers and more.  Don’t let talk of “co-sleeping” confuse you into thinking that bed sharing is safe.  The research is clear that room sharing is safe.  Bed sharing is not.

There are many barriers for some mothers to surmount in order to successfully breastfeed.  Room sharing is not one of them.

 

Water Ripples

Unintended Consequences Ripple Through Our Lives

As parents, we make choices hundreds of times a day.  We make them for ourselves and for our children.  We try to be good role models.  We try to be knowledgeable on issues about our children’s lives.  But, this is a complicated world and it’s hard to keep up.

 

Even though we try our best, the Law of Unintended Consequences can still come up to bite us in the butt.  What is the Law of Unintended Consequences?  Well, that’s when we can’t see far enough ahead or around the corners of our decisions –when the intended solution actually makes the problem worse.

 

Parenting decisions are full of these unintended consequences.  I recently talked with a mom who said, “We put bumpers in our baby’s bed.  We felt like such rebels!”  Her feeling was that she was protecting her baby from the bumps and bruises of hitting his head on the crib or having his arms and legs become entangled in the slats.  She had been told by her physician that a bare crib was best but that advice didn’t feel comfortable to her.  Bumpers are cute.  Bumpers are soft.  Bumpers make a baby’s world more comfortable and they wouldn’t sell them if they weren’t safe.  Would they?

 

In short, she felt she was being protective of her baby boy.  She was being a better mom by providing him a comfortable, well-padded sleep place –until she discovered him dead in his crib with his face pressed up against those bumpers.

 

The Law of Unintended Consequences – A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended, such as when a decision has a perverse outcome that causes the opposite to what was intended.

 

Unintended consequences happen frequently in our lives.   When the American Academy of Pediatrics first stated that babies could sleep on either their backs or their sides they could not predict that a whole new industry of unsafe products called “Sleep Positioners” would develop.  Later, when doctors encouraged parents to only place babies on their backs to sleep, no one could have predicted that many parents would follow that advice so closely that babies started developing flat heads and developmental delays.

 

As parents, we grow, we learn, we gain experience and hopefully, we get lucky enough not to be seriously bitten by the Law of Unintended Consequences.

She’s had 18 years to get ready for this day. She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway. Bogguss, Suzy, “Letting Go “

I thought I'd be ready.

18 years. What a milestone. High School graduation. Prom. College Visits. What might have been?

No matter how long it’s been, we don’t forget. Grief can still crash like waves. It is all the more surprising when a particularly vicious wave crashes upon you. Although the years have gone by, it still hurts. 18 years. Who would have believed it was possible to survive 18 years without my precious baby?

Does it still hurt as much as it did in the beginning? I don’t think so, but I’m not entirely sure. It still hurts. Perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to the pain. I think that I’ve learned a large variety of coping skills that I can pull out of my bag of tricks when I’m having a bad day. My family and I are certainly not in the depths of depression and single minded sadness that occurred when our baby died. The sadness is more like a deep, soulful sigh.

Don’t get me wrong. There is laughter and hope. We’ve learned so many wonderful things along this journey of grief. I believe that our daughter sprinkles gifts in our path to help us keep moving forward. We’ve picked up many gifts along the way. As we walk down the path, we continue to search in the quiet places for all the delightful gifts that she has left. I am certain, that sometimes, I’m hurrying too fast and I miss a few. That makes the gifts that I’ve discovered all the more precious.

When my daughter died, I felt that I had lost all control of my life. But, the very first gift that my daughter gave me was the realization that I can control the grace and dignity with which I handle this devastating loss. I can choose to be sad or to be hopeful. I can choose to wallow in my grief or to honor her memory with good works.

Part of the grief journey has been keeping up with the evolution of the diagnosis of SIDS. In 1991, SIDS was a complete mystery and every parent’s worst nightmare. Then the arrival of the Back to Sleep program and the increasing number of risk reduction techniques. Wow! I did many of things wrong. Am I responsible for her death? Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I did nothing more than love my child. I did the best that I knew how at the time.

With each new theory, I have to revaluate my position. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. In the end, I still come back to the same place. I simply loved my baby. There is peace in that belief.

There are few opportunities to talk about her. Some of our friends and acquaintances don’t even know that we have had a child die. Once the years have gone by, how exactly do you introduce the subject? Do I introduce myself as a SIDS parent? “Hi, my name is _______ and I’m the mother of a baby that died?”

At some point, the information became a quiet treasure that I share only when I chose. I’ve reached the point of being comfortable with the “How many children do you have?” question. Sometimes, I have 3 children. Sometimes I have two. And sometimes, just for fun, I have six! What does it really matter how many children you have to the person standing at the bus stop with you?

The first time I only counted my live children, I was certain that the earth would open up and I would be swallowed whole. Surprisingly, nothing happened. Since then, I’ve become more and more comfortable giving what ever answer I feel like today. It’s very liberating. It’s become my little joke that only my daughter and me share.

18 years! I think instead of crying this year, I’ll celebrate. Who would have believed that I’d make it this far? I’m happy, hopeful and healthy. My children have grown up knowing that they are God’s most precious gifts to me. I will continue to grow my dead child along with my live children. They all will live in my heart together.

Recently, there was an excellent  article in the New York Times entitled “A Campaign Against Co-Sleeping“.   This was a thoughtful article on the Milwaukee ads that have caused such a hew and cry amongst professionals and attachment parenting advocates.

Milwaukee's Safe Sleep Campaign

The author, KJ Dellantonia offers one main point to consider – “It isn’t whether bed-sharing can be safe under the right circumstances (no soft bedding, no alcohol or medications, non-smoking parents, no cutlery). It’s whether the ads will work, and even whether they might work too well.”  She goes on to say:

“An image of a baby sleeping with a butcher knife is  powerful enough to stick in the head of not just a pregnant woman or new mother considering her baby’s sleeping arrangements, but also in the head of the boyfriend she might leave that baby with, or the grandmother, or the  sitter.

It’s shocking enough to stay with a woman who isn’t making a clear-headed decision about sleeping with her baby, but is acting out of sleep-deprivation (or some other form of desperation) when she collapses onto a sofa or takes an infant into an unprepared bed. It’s enough to make almost anyone think twice. These ads are likely to achieve their stated goal: disrupting a cycle that Milwaukee believes leads to easily preventable infant deaths.”

The author calls for a calm discussion from the readers to weigh in about the intention of the ads – not whether bed-sharing worked for you and not if bed-sharing is an effective parenting tool.  She asked that we consider whether the ads will be effective with a particular segment of the population referred to as the “impulsive bed-sharer”.

I am truly impressed with the comments that followed her article.  Rather than the usual party lines for and against bed-sharing, there are a number of thoughtful constructive comments. People from both sides of the debate coming together to address an issue.

I’m all for it!  Constructive debate is good.  Instead of “I did it so it’s right” or “Everyone that does it is endangering their babies.”  Let’s have an open forum.  According to the 2011 Health Ranking Report, the U.S. ranks 43rd in infant mortality in the world.  Countries like Sweden, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Iceland are all half of the United States rate.”  Come on now.  We can do better!

The Back to Sleep campaign was successful in reducing sudden unexpected infant deaths by nearly 50% however, in the last 10 years, that decline has leveled off.  We need to try something new.  People, there are babies dying out there.  What do you suggest?

To Hold or Not To Hold: Creating Guidelines for Management of Unexplained Child Death-Bereaved parents, grandparents, step-parents and guardians of sudden and unexpected infant and childhood deaths are invited to participate in this online survey that takes about 20 minutes.

 

Participants will share their experience of the process that followed the death of their infant or child. This study has been approved by the IRB of Hackensack University Medical Center of Hackensack, NJ and is part of a collaboration with NAME, IACM&E, ABMDI, SUDC and the CJ Foundation to create guidelines into the management of sudden infant/child death that balance the emotional needs of families and satisfy the needs of a comprehensive investigation. Surveys for medicolegal death professionals and Hospitals will also aid in the creation of these guidelines.

 

The survey can be accessed here<http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ToHoldorNotToHoldFamilySurvey>.


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