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Sudden Infant Death and Sleep Positioners

Posted Sep 30 2010 8:40am

I was greatly concerned when I read the article in today's New York Times about the risk of infant sleep positioners. I cannot understand how any pediatrician would recommend these and yet this is what happened. The article by Gardiner Harris and Andrew Martin told of an eight-week-old twin who died when one of these was used in his bed. According to the article, the mother said her pediatrician told her to put the infant on his side "to aid with indigestion". I cannot imagine what the doctor was thinking. If the baby had some medicines or foods that didn't agree with him, there are other ways to handle it. Perhaps the mother was nursing the baby and was eating something that upset the baby. I wonder if the doctor even went over the mother's diet? This seems to be something that doesn't seem to happen very often. I have been told by medical students and pediatric residents that I am the only doctor they have ever heard discuss either a nursing mother's diet or a child's diet. The old fashioned practice of medicine still pays off. Many foods, as well as medicines, go through  breast milk and cause problems for babies. I wonder if the doctor checked on any medicine the mother was taking and also was she drinking herb teas which may cause problems.

I had a mother come into my office one day after Thanksgiving saying her baby was crying a lot and something was upsetting him. On physical examination, I could not find anything wrong, so I asked the mother what she had eaten the last few days. The woman told me about her diet and it turned out that she had had rutabagas on Thanksgiving. I suspected that this was the cause of the baby's crying since the mother  had never eaten that before and sure enough after two days the baby was happier. I don't think I still know what rutabagas is but it apparently caused a lot of trouble.

Fortunately, the FDA says they are going to start "policing the market for infant comfort and sleeping devices more aggressively" according to the article. I hope more pediatricians go back to the basics of practicing pediatrics and talk to their mothers without resorting to artificial means to solve children's problems.



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