A Closer Look At Your Health: How to help your baby sleep safely

Sleeping babyIt’s scary to think that you could do something as normal and safe as putting your baby down for a nap, and he might not wake up. But it happens more often than it should, unfortunately. About 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States. The cause of death for many of these babies can’t be determined, but there are things you can do to make sure your baby has a safe sleep environment.

So what are those things we can do to help babies sleep safely?

First and foremost, place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times, including naps. They should sleep on a firm, flat sleep surface (such as a mattress) in a safety-approved crib with no soft bedding or soft toys. Avoid using a couch, soft chair, car seat, swing, bouncy seat, stroller, infant carrier, or infant sling for routine sleep. Instead of soft bedding, keep babies comfortable with clothing or put them in a sleep sack or a wearable blanket. Health officials also recommend keeping your baby’s sleep area in the same room (but not in the same bed) where you sleep until your baby is at least 6 months to 12 months old.

What do we know about sudden unexplained infant deaths?

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is defined as a death that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly for an infant of less than 1 year old. It includes deaths without a clear cause, such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and those from a known cause, such as accidental suffocation and strangulation. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death is the fourth leading cause of death for Idaho children younger than 1 year old. There are many things we don’t know about Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, but there are some things we have learned, including:

  • Infants are more vulnerable between the second and fourth months of their lives.
  • Breastfeeding for the first six months seems to lower the risk.
  • Sucking on a pacifier at bedtime may reduce the risk. However, do not hang the pacifier around a baby’s neck.

One of the hallmarks of sudden and unexpected infant deaths is the “sudden” part. Is there any way to know if your baby’s risk is higher than normal?

No, there really isn’t. It is unpredictable and strikes seemingly healthy babies without warning. Putting your baby to bed in a safe sleep environment is critical. A mother’s behavior during pregnancy also can have an impact, including whether or not she smoked, took drugs or drank alcohol, and had proper prenatal care. The risk also seems to increase for premature babies or those with a low birth weight, and for mothers who were younger than 20 when they gave birth.

So we know that putting babies to sleep on their backs is safer than their bellies or their sides. But couldn’t they choke on their spit-up or vomit?

That is a common concern for parents, and if you have that concern, you should discuss it with your medical provider. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported no increased risk of choking for babies who sleep on their backs. In fact, since the organization recommended in 1992 that babies sleep on their backs, the rate of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death has dropped by more than 50 percent.

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DHW Director: DisAbility Rights Idaho report is inaccurate and incomplete

A troubling report released today by DisAbility Rights Idaho presents an inaccurate and incomplete picture of our operations at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

The report makes some serious allegations about our staff and our ability to provide a safe home for the residents of SWITC. None of the issues raised in the report are new or recent. In fact, all of the issues have been and continue to be addressed. While we appreciate and respect the work done by DisAbility Rights Idaho, we have serious issues with a report that contains numerous factual inaccuracies. Information gained during our own investigations and licensure surveys has led to increased emphasis on ensuring the safety of our residents and our employees. We have done our best to be transparent. But we are also bound by privacy and confidentiality laws that limit what we can say. We are not able to provide the additional context necessary to tell the entire story.

Contrary to what the report says, we first notified media and the public in August 2017 when we identified inappropriate and abusive employee behavior that was not meeting our standards. We launched an extensive internal investigation into the allegations. As a result, six employees were terminated. However, the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges based on the Nampa Police Department investigation.

A licensure survey last summer and follow-up surveys resulted in several findings that we are continuing to address. SWITC has implemented plans of correction that also must be approved and checked as part of the licensure surveys.

SWITC annual licensure survey ended this past week.  It was a full survey that looked at SWITC’s compliance with more than 470 federal regulations. The surveyors also conducted a complaint investigation, addressing some of the same allegations DRI makes in its report. The survey team reviewed many of the abuse investigation reports from 2017 and 2018 and interviewed clients, staff, parents, guardians, and agencies, including Adult Protection Services.  Continue reading

DHW releases Idaho Opioid Needs Assessment 2018

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Drug-induced deaths have increased in Idaho since 2010, but an updated report shows that the state remains slightly lower than the national average for this number. In 2016, the most recent year for which confirmed data is available, Idaho ranked 36th in the age-adjusted rate of drug-induced deaths by state, according to the Idaho Opioid Needs Assessment, which was released today by the Division of Behavioral Health.

A couple other highlights from the report include:

  • Since reaching a peak in 2010-2012, several indicators appear to show a modest decrease in non-heroin opiate/synthetic use in Idaho over recent years.
  • However, in 2016 Idaho was above the national average for the rate of opioids dispensed per 100,000 population and many indicators suggest that Idaho has experienced a significant increase in heroin use over the past decade.

Continue reading

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’re a woman over the age of 50, have you had a mammogram yet?

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As we near the end of October, I am issuing a challenge to the women of Idaho, who are notorious for not getting their mammograms: If you are over the age of 40, please talk to your healthcare provider about when you should start getting screened, and if you are over 50, just schedule it. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, so there is a good chance this disease will affect you or someone you love. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.

Why is breast cancer screening important?

Getting a mammogram at the appropriate time in your life is important because the earlier cancer is found, the earlier you can get treatment for it. If breast cancer is discovered before it spreads, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent on the national level. But for late-stage cases, the five-year survival rate drops to 24 percent. That’s why early detection is important.  Continue reading

CO poisoning: You can’t see it, smell it or taste it, but here’s how to prevent it

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With the onset of colder weather across Idaho, we’re going to be using heating systems, hot water heaters, car heaters, portable outdoor heaters and other gas, oil or wood-burning appliances that emit potentially deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Because carbon monoxide can build up in enclosed and even partially enclosed places, it’s a good time to talk about carbon monoxide poisoning and steps you can take to avoid it. Continue reading

#FightFlu Idaho, and get your annual flu shot now to protect yourself this season!

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As you may have heard, the last flu season was particularly severe, resulting in more than 80,000 deaths in the nation and 101 deaths in Idaho. The flu season here can last from October to May, and typically peaks in January or February. Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from what can be a serious infection, even for otherwise healthy people. Continue reading

Reports of Shiga-toxin producing E. Coli (STEC) food poisoning on the rise in SW Idaho

FS__08_Under5_Kidney_Tips_1080x1080Today we’re talking about food poisoning, and a serious increase in STEC cases in Southwest Idaho – What the heck is STEC?

So, the past month was National Food Safety Month and coincidentally here in Southwest Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare along with our local public health district partners have had an unusually large number of reports about infections caused by Shiga-toxin producing E. Coli – or STEC for short –that has resulted in several hospitalizations of very young children, so now’s a good time to understand what STEC is, what to watch for and how to reduce the risk of infection to yourself or your children. Continue reading