Between 2005-2013, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) claimed the lives of 568 babies in Israel. That’s 40-89 deaths every year. While there is a significant drop (almost 70%) in such cases in the West, the number remains fairly constant in Israel. This has been explained by blaming the parents for not implementing recommendations.
ATID, the Israeli Society for the Study and Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, conducted a survey among nurses in obstetrics and prenatal departments, and in the Tipat Halav clinics. They found that nurses know the recommendations for reducing risks – such as laying the child to sleep on its back or having the mother not smoke during pregnancy. However, many of the nurses knew little of what constitutes a safe sleep environment – like where to place the baby in the cot, how to cover the child, the influence of a pacifier, etc. The poll also revealed a reverse connection between the nurses’ experience and their knowledge of the recommendations: nurses with less than 10 years’ practice knew more than their more experienced peers.
In order to bring the medical staff up to date – after all, the parents perceive them as authority figures – ATID, in partnership with the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, arranged a professional conference with the aim of deepening knowledge in this area. Participants included nurses, midwives, doctors and other professionals from all over the country.
Dr. Anat Shatz, Chairperson of ATID, studies breathing in infants and children and founded the Pediatric Sleep Clinic at Shaare Zedek: “At a time when SIDS statistics are getting lower around the world, because recommendations are being implemented, the numbers in Israel remain relatively stable…”
“… SIDS is the main cause of death among infants aged 1 month to a year. We still do not know the reasons for it, but physiological research into infants supports the theory that sleeping on the stomach, an unsafe sleep environment and mothers who smoke during pregnancy all have a damaging effect on how a child’s awakening mechanism functions.
In Israel, we adopt the recommendations of the American College of Pediatricians , which have been proven in the western world. I believe that if our nurses and doctors pass on these recommendations to all the parents, who then fully implement them, we’ll soon see a more significant drop in the number of deaths in Israel.”
Dr. Shatz added, “I call on the parents and all those who treat infants to be extra careful and take every possible precaution to prevent the next death – that means first and foremost laying the child on its back, no smoking during pregnancy and after the birth and making sure the baby is in a safe sleep environment.”