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    Sweet Dreams, Baby

    continued...

    That cute teddy bear could be a hazard, the article's authors say. Soft materials, such as pillows, comforters, stuffed toys, and quilts, should be kept away from the infant's sleeping area. Blankets and sheets should be tucked in around the crib mattress and should not reach up farther than the baby's chest.

    Overheating of the infant and the room should also be avoided, according to the task force. SIDS statistics have always shown higher rates of the syndrome during winter months. The bedroom temperature should be kept at a level comfortable for a lightly clothed adult, and infants should not be over-bundled.

    But simply putting babies to sleep in the correct position can go a long way toward reducing SIDS, Malloy says. "Physicians can play an important role by passing that information on to parents when they see children for routine well-children visits," he says.

    Experts do suggest a certain amount of time on their tummies while babies are awake and supervised, for developmental reasons and to help prevent flat spots on their heads, the study notes.

    "It's always important to review current practices, and [a significant] impact has been made to the recommendation for positioning babies" with the task force's recommendations, says Richard J. Martin, MD, who reviewed the article for WebMD. "Community education and resources are key, particularly among day-care providers, clinics, and [minority] communities." Martin is director of the division of neonatology at Rainbow Babies' and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

    "For those parents who have already changed their infants' sleeping position to the back, they should know that they've clearly done the right thing," Martin says. "For those who haven't or who have ignored the message, they should pay attention to the suggestions from this latest report."

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