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Checklist May Help You Identify If Your Baby Has SIDS Risk

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The Baby Check is based on seven symptoms and 12 signs, each of which receives a score.

"We discovered that three of the 19 signs and symptoms occurred in a significantly greater proportion of infants who died of SIDS than in the living babies studied as a control group," explains Blair. "Those signs or symptoms included [infants] being drowsy most of the time when awake, infants wheezing, and infants taking less than half the normal amount of fluids in the last 24 hours before their deaths."

Both Blair and Winn agree that, by themselves, these symptoms are not sufficient to make a diagnosis of illness. "Although these symptoms are statistically significant in the British study, they are not 'house burning down' warning symptoms," says Winn. "The infants didn't have an obvious illness, but they are worthy of attention."

Blair says that if parents note these or the other symptoms in the Baby Check survey, they should add up the scores. If the scores meet the criteria listed in the Baby Check instructions, he encourages parents to contact their health care provider.

"The Baby Check score, as a means of quantifying acute illness, can be used by parents to help them decide whether to seek medical attention," explains Blair. "It can be used by health professionals as a tool to discriminate more reliably between those babies who should be assessed in hospital and those who need not be."

Another sign revealed by the study was that SIDS babies were more than five times more likely than babies who did not die to have had a "life-threatening event," as defined by their parents.

"These events are usually associated with a change in skin color, a type of pallor or bluish discoloration of the skin so the baby looks blue and appears not to be breathing, or the baby look[s] pale and appear[s] not be breathing," Winn says. "Whether or not these events are [actually] 'life threatening' is often a matter of semantics, but for the purposes of this study, this type of event was defined as life threatening."

While experiencing such an event by itself does not necessarily predict SIDS -- it happens to healthy babies also -- Winn still says parents "ought to at least seek advice from their health care provider" if their baby experiences such an event.

Copies of the Baby Check scoring system can be obtained via the following address or telephone number:
Baby Check, P.O. Box 324, Wroxham, Norwich NR12 8EQ. Phone 01603 784400.

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