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Baby Sitters and SIDS

January 31, 1997

The sitter had put my baby in a bedroom in which he had never been before(on a bed on his back), she said he was whining a little after she put him down (why she put him down when he had already had a morning nap, I'll never know.) and did not check on him for about an hour. When she did check, he looked "funny" and was not breathing. I am not convinced he ever was actually sleeping , but we'll never know.

I have read some of your stories and I do not want to offend any parents whose babies died at home or sitters who did check frequently on the babies, but has anyone ever tallied up the number of SIDS deaths at a sitters home versus at the babies home? I only know a few other SIDS mom's in my area, and all of them occurred at a sitter's home, two of them on the very first day! Did anyone ever look at SIDS from the baby's standpoint, emotionally and psychologically? Being in a strange environment, room, or home. Left alone and not responded to when calling out for help? I'm sorry, but I keep thinking, maybe if she had just taken him outside in his carseat with the other children, he would still be with us.

I would like to respond to your question about baby sitters. As others have briefly mentioned on this List, there was a SIDS-related research meeting in Washington, D.C. in mid-January which I had the opportunity to attend. Although the focus was on sleep position and bedding, some new information was discussed about SIDS as related to baby sitters/day care. At a higher frequency than we would have estimated, it turns out that in the U.S. about 30% of SIDS occurs while the baby is at an organized day care facility, with the times extending from early morning until late in the evening. However, it is our best understanding that this association is related to the high frequency with which young infants in the U.S. are cared for in day-care settings; that is, no cause--effect relationship is being suggested and no criticism would be acceptable or valid in regard to your baby being with a baby sitter.

I know this information cannot reduce your loss, but I hope that the information is of help to you.

Carl E. Hunt, M.D.
Toledo/Washington D.C.

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