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October marks Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month, a time to shed light on sudden infant deaths and safe sleeping environments.
The cause of SIDS is unknown; however, research has proven that infants are safest when placed to sleep on their backs in an uncluttered crib, cradle, or bassinet. Preventing exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and after birth reduces the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding, which is recognized as a fundamental element in healthy infant growth and development, as well as pacifier use also provide protection against SIDS.
The Government of Canada places the utmost importance on early infant health, and develops publications, carries out surveillance, and promotes good health and positive lifestyles to address SIDS, safe sleeping environments, smoking, and breastfeeding.
While Canada has seen a marked decline in the incidence of SIDS over the last two decades, sudden infant death remains a major public health issue. Early this summer, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, the Canadian Institute of Child Health released the revised Joint Statement on Safe Sleep: Preventing Sudden Infant Deaths in Canada. Principles contained in the Joint Statement are also reflected in the Safe Sleep for Your Baby parent and caregiver brochure.
Health Canada is building on the success of the Back to Sleep public-education campaign to raise awareness of SIDS in First Nations and Inuit communities using culturally-relevant and community-based approaches. Additionally, the Government has requirements for cribs, cradles, and bassinets that are among the most stringent in the world. In 2010, Health Canada strengthened the Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets Regulations, and introduced new requirements for stand-alone bassinets.
As Minister of Health, I encourage all health practitioners, expectant and new parents, their families and friends, as well as caregivers to learn more about the principles of safe sleep and the modifiable risk factors. For more information on SIDS and safe sleeping environments, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.
Minister of Health
Government of Canada