Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sudden heartbreak


Be sure to adopt safe sleeping techniques with your baby
In case you missed it, Red Nose Day was held last week to raise awareness of SIDS and Kids - a non-profit group dedicated to saving the lives of babies and children during pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood, as well as supporting bereaved families.
Imagine putting your infant to bed one night, only to wake up in the morning to find them no longer breathing.
Or imagine nurturing your unborn baby for months only to give birth to a stillborn child. 
This is the horror that faces an average of 3500 families every year in Australia. 
SIDS and Kids CEO Leanne Raven says statistics show that about nine children under the age of four die suddenly and unexpectedly every day because they were either stillborn or from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or an unspecified cause or injury. 
“As an organisation that assists parents who lose a baby or child suddenly and unexpectedly we are dealing with the devastating consequences of this statistic every day,“ says Leanne. 
Having known about SIDS and Kids and its primary fundraising event Red Nose Day for many years, I browsed the website this week and was surprised by just how much the organisation has grown. 
Now with branches in each state, SIDS and Kids Queensland was formed in 1978 and in more recent years broadened its services to support people who have been affected by the death of a child from any cause – not just SIDS.
The support incorporates perinatal deaths (including stillbirth and neonatal deaths), drowning, car accidents, sudden onset illnesses and any other cause of death. 

Nationally there is ongoing research into the cause of SIDS, stillbirth and sudden death in infancy as well as the provision of education materials on bereavement to parents, health professionals and the community. 
The organisation has also implemented the Safe Sleeping Health Promotion Program educating parents, health professionals and the community. 
The program has been developed in conjunction with researchers from Australasia and internationally and provides information about the evidence around sudden infant death syndrome risk reduction (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents.
Since it’s inception in the early 1990’s, the program has reduced the incidence of SIDS by 85% saving more than 6500 babies lives.
Sadly the cause of sudden infant death syndrome remains unknown with more research into the cause still needed.
As well as education, SIDS and Kids offers free 24-hour bereavement support to families. 
The counselling service is also extended to specialised support groups for family and friends. 
Experts estimate that up to 60 people are affected by the death of one child, so it has a significant flow-on effect throughout the community. 
Navigating my way through the SIDS and Kids Queensland website, I came upon a section of “Parent Stories“. 
Even if you are not a parent, you cannot help but be moved to tears when reading about little Jack or baby Ella. 
After reading their stories, I was so choked up with tears, I couldn’t wait to hug my girls because I’m so grateful to have them in my life. 
There is no way of understanding what these parents go through, and it’s hard for friends and family to know what to do to help, when they themselves are also grieving. 
That’s why SIDS and Kids is so vital. 
They know what to say, and what to do, to help these families.
REACH OUT 
* For free 24-hour bereavement support call the SIDS and Kids national hotline on 1300 308 307. 
All calls made to this number are directed to the local SIDS and Kids office in each state. 
For more details visit www.sidsandkids.org 
You can make a donation to SIDS and Kids online at www.rednoseday.com.au 
HOW TO SLEEP YOUR BABY SAFELY
1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
2. Sleep baby with face uncovered (no doonas, pillows, lambs wool, bumpers or soft toys)
3. Avoid exposing babies to tobacco smoke before birth and after
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment (safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding)
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping environment next to the parent’s bed for the first six to twelve months of life

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