I was re-reading the baby book Dr. Simons gave us, as Robin is about to graduate to a new chapter (babies 7 to 12 months old). It has a whole section on what to look for in child care providers, including this sentence that made me stop and go “Whaaa?”:

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has gotten plenty of attention in recent years, and many parents now know the importance of placing a baby to sleep on her back to minimize the risk of SIDS. Obviously, this same precaution should be followed in child care settings, where 20 percent of all SIDS cases occur.

Twenty percent? SIDS always occurs when a child is asleep; only a fraction (a large fraction, but still a fraction) of children go to daycare at all; and the kids who are in daycare are awake most of that time. So if twenty percent of all SIDS cases occur in child care settings, then isn’t that incredibly suspicious? I mean, yikes. That’s a crazy statistic to be given without any explanation or comment!

I did a little more reading and found that, yes, SIDS is disproportionately associated with daycare. The risk is three times higher for a child in daycare, and the incidence of SIDS deaths peaks around 2-4 months, “which is about the time that working mothers return to work and place their children in child care.

I don’t have anything against daycare—I went to daycare, and I was fine—but I think this should really be more a part of the conversation about SIDS. I got a lot of information about SIDS from the hospital but I had to tease out for myself this basic fact about the risk. I wonder if it’s something people don’t want to talk about because it suggests an even more unsettling possibility about the prevalence of child abuse in daycare settings?

Of course, SIDS is only one of the many, many things that scare me now. I used to be fearless, really, I lacked even the most rudimentary self-protective instinct. I liked high places, fast cars, big dogs, bad neighborhoods, dangerous substances. I liked fire and storms and things that blow up. This baby has transformed me into an utter craven coward. I’ve had a great time clinging to the back of a motorcycle and careening through traffic, but now I cannot push a stroller across the street without anxiety. Every motorist, and half of the pedestrians, are a potential threat to my baby. Thanks to SIDS, I am even afraid of naps.

The good news on that front, however, is that according to this study I just looked up, 90 percent of SIDS deaths occur before 6 months. So we are mostly out of the woods on that one, at least.

2 Responses to “Fear”

  • Nina Says:

    1) I am sorry you are fearful. Maybe when Robin grows big enough to show off the fearlessness that is his birthright, your fear will abate too. But if it doesn’t, you can always worry with me.

    2) I think people don’t want to talk about the SIDS-childcare connection because most parents are anguished/worried enough about leaving their small babies in childcare, but don’t have a choice. “Check to make sure that daycare providers are adequately educated and following SIDS-prevention guidelines” should definitely be on parents’ list — but there’s already a terrifying long list of things, and maybe that makes people more reluctant to have that conversation.

  • shannon Says:

    Your point #2 is pretty much what I figured–but we shoudn’t elide a truth just because it’s unpleasant!

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