Hopkins warns against bundling too tightly

February 15, 2007|By Chris Emery | Chris Emery,Sun reporter

For infants, cold weather brings a counterintuitive danger - overheating.

Johns Hopkins Medicine issued a warning yesterday that infants who are bundled too tightly against the cold could be at greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Heavy blankets, hats and clothing can cause infants to overheat, which is one of the risk factors for SIDS, the leading cause of death of children younger than 1.

"It's fine to swaddle a baby, but people will tend to overwrap infants in cold weather, even if their house is warm," said Dr. Ann C. Halbower, medical director of the Johns Hopkins pediatric sleep disorders program. "Too many blankets, especially if the head is covered, can lead to a problem where the infant just can't vent."

Halbower warned against covering a baby's head or face, the areas of the body where the most heat is released. She said blankets should come up just to a baby's armpits and should be tucked tightly into the bottom of the bed to prevent the child from scooting further under the covers. "If an infant is notably sweating, the baby should be unwrapped and dressed much lighter," she said."

She added that babies should sleep on their backs if possible and not in the same bed as other people, which puts them at greater risk of overheating and suffocation. Babies under 6 months and those born prematurely are particularly vulnerable.

Other risk factors include exposure to cigarette smoke, loose bedding and soft-sleeping surfaces, such as sofas and waterbeds.

chris.emery@baltsun.com

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