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Checklist May Help You Identify If Your Baby Has SIDS Risk

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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.

Vital Information:

  • A new study shows that a simple, 19-question scored checklist may be able to determine which babies are at risk of sudden death.
  • The Baby Check checklist is based on many symptoms and signs that may not be significant individually, but which taken together may signify a risk of death.
  • Questions on the checklist include:
    In the last 24 hours:
    Has the baby vomited at least half the feed after each of the last three feeds?
    Has the baby had any bile-stained (green) vomiting?
    Has the baby taken fewer fluids than usual in the last 24 hours?
    Has the baby passed less urine than usual?
    Has the baby been drowsy (less alert than usual) when awake?
    Has the baby had an unusual cry (sounds unusual to mother)?
  • The complete checklist may help parents and health care professionals determine when a baby needs serious medical attention.
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