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Reducing the risk of SIDS

Published (3/7/2008)
By Courtney Blanchard
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Kathleen Fernback, left, director of the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center for Children

The chances that a child will die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is dramatically reduced by placing the child on its back to sleep and by removing items like soft pillows, stuffed animals and bulky quilts from the crib, said Kathleen Fernback, director of Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center.

A bill, sponsored by Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Faribault), HF3197, would require all licensed child care providers to place babies to sleep on their backs, unless a note from a doctor requires the child to sleep on their stomach for a medical reason.

The bill was laid over at the Feb. 28 meeting of the House Early Childhood Learning Finance Division for possible inclusion in the division’s omnibus bill.

Educating the public about proper sleeping positions has nearly cut the number of SIDS cases in half, Fernback said.

Current law requires all licensed daycare centers to place babies on their backs, but a note from the parent allows the daycare to change that practice.

Colleen Lindstrom tearfully recalled how her 3 ˝ month-old daughter died at a daycare center. When she chose the daycare center for her daughter, Lindstrom said the employees were adamant about their policy to place children on their backs, but still included a question about it on a form that she filled out.

“We couldn’t imagine that these days anyone puts their child to sleep on their stomach,” Lindstrom said.

However, a daycare employee put her daughter to sleep on her stomach, and the child likely died of SIDS or suffocation, Lindstrom said.

The mood of the meeting turned lighter when Rep. Lynn Wardlow (R-Eagan) asked what was safe to put in the crib with his grandchildren.

“At what age can they have toys in there? ‘Cuz I got a 2-year-old, and there’s no room for him in the crib,” he said.

Fernback said toys and pillows are fine with a child that age.

A companion bill, SF2848, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee.

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