Perinatal Neonatal

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Safety

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Since 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that infants be placed to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death. SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under 1 year of age. Even though there is no way to know which babies might die of SIDS, there are some things that you can do to make your baby safer:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, even for naps. This is the safest sleep position for a healthy baby to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Place your baby on a firm mattress, such as in a safety-approved crib. For more information on crib safety, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772. Research has shown that placing a baby to sleep on soft mattresses, sofas, sofa cushions, waterbeds, sheepskins, or other soft surfaces raises the risk of SIDS.
  • Remove soft, fluffy, and loose bedding and stuffed toys from your baby's sleep area. Make sure you keep all pillows, quilts, stuffed toys, and other soft items away from your baby's sleep area.
  • Do not use infant sleep positioners. Using a positioner to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep is dangerous and not needed.
  • Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows to place your baby on his or her back to sleep and about the dangers of soft bedding. Talk to child care providers, grandparents, babysitters, and all caregivers about SIDS risk. Remember, every sleep time counts.
  • Make sure your baby's face and head stay uncovered during sleep. Keep blankets and other coverings away from your baby's mouth and nose. The best way to do this is to dress the baby in sleep clothing so you will not have to use any other covering over the baby. If you do use a blanket or another covering, make sure that the baby's feet are at the bottom of the crib, the blanket is no higher than the baby's chest, and the blanket is tucked in around the bottom of the crib mattress.
  • Do not allow smoking around your baby. Don't smoke before or after the birth of your baby and make sure no one smokes around your baby.
  • Don't let your baby get too warm during sleep. Keep your baby warm during sleep, but not too warm. Your baby's room should be at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult. Too many layers of clothing or blankets can overheat your baby.

Some mothers worry if the baby rolls over during the night. However, by the time your baby is able to roll over by herself, the risk for SIDS is much lower. During the time of greatest risk, 2 to 4 months of age, most babies are not able to turn over from their backs to their stomachs.

Car Seat Guide
Types of Car Seats At a Glance
Note: This chart is a quick guide on where to start your search. It’s important to continue reading more about the features and how to use your car seat. Additional safety tips are at the end of this article.
Age Group
Type of Seat
General Guidelines
Infants / Toddlers Rear-facing only seats and rear-facing convertible seats All infants and toddlers should ride in Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are at least 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat's manufacturer.
Toddlers / Preschoolers Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses Any child who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible car seat should use a Forward-Facing Car Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.
School-Aged Children Booster seat All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
Older Children Seat belt

When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.

All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.


Burns
Burn safety at home

Many ordinary things in a home — from bath water and hot food to electrical outlets — can cause childhood burns. To prevent burns, follow these burn safety tips:

  • Reduce water temperature. Set the thermostat on your hot water heater to below 120 F (48.9 C). Always test the water temperature before your child gets in the tub. Aim for bath water around 100 F (38 C).
  • Avoid hot spills. Don't cook, drink or carry hot beverages or soup while holding a child. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges. Don't use tablecloths or placemats, which young children can pull down. When you're using the stove, use back burners and turn the handles of your pots and pans toward the rear of the stove. Avoid leaving food cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Establish 'no' zones. Block access to the stove and fireplace, and make space heaters and hot water heaters inaccessible.
  • Unplug irons. Store items designed to get hot, such as clothes irons, unplugged and out of reach.
  • Test food temperature. Food or liquids warmed in a microwave might heat unevenly. Never warm a baby's bottle in the microwave.
  • Choose a cool-water humidifier or vaporizer. If you use a hot-steam vaporizer, keep it out of reach.
  • Address outlets and electrical cords. Cover unused electrical outlets with safety caps. Inserting a fork, key or other metal object into an outlet could result in an electrical burn. Keep electrical cords and wires out of the way so that children don't chew on them. Replace damaged, brittle or frayed electrical cords.

Also, check product labels to make sure mattresses and pajamas meet federal flammability standards.

Burn-safety outdoors

These burn safety measures can protect children from outdoor hazards:

  • Watch grills and fire pits. Don't allow children to play near these potential hazards.
  • Check car seats. Before placing your child in a car seat, check for hot straps or buckles. If you park in direct sunlight, cover the car seat with a towel or blanket.
  • Forgo backyard fireworks. Leave fireworks, including sparklers, to trained professionals.
Fire safety counts, too

Take these simple precautions to prevent fires:

  • Lock up matches and lighters. Store matches, lighters and flammable liquids in a locked cabinet or drawer. Teach children that matches and lighters aren't toys.
  • Be careful with candles and cigarettes. Keep burning candles out of reach, and extinguish candles before leaving the room. If you smoke, avoid smoking in the house — especially in bed. Be sure cigarettes are completely out before throwing them away.
  • Use space heaters with care. Keep space heaters at least three feet (about one meter) away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials. Keep children away from space heaters. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater near someone who's sleeping.
  • Keep your fireplace clean. An annual cleaning and inspection can help prevent a chimney fire.

In case of emergency, keep fire extinguishers handy throughout your home. Teach children to leave a burning building by crawling under the smoke, and to stop, drop and roll if clothes catch fire. And be sure to install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Being prepared for an emergency can be the best safety tool of all.

Tips to Prevent Poisoning:
Safety Tips for You, Your Family, and Friends

Unless noted, the safety tips below were adapted from the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ poison prevention tips for children and adults.

Drugs and Medicines
  • Only take prescription medications that are prescribed to you by a healthcare professional. Misusing or abusing prescription or over-the-counter medications is not a “safe” alternative to illicit substance abuse.
  • Never take larger or more frequent doses of your medications, particularly prescription pain medications, to try to get faster or more powerful effects.
  • Never share or sell your prescription drugs. Keep all prescription medicines (especially prescription painkillers, such as those containing methadone, hydrocodone, or oxycodone), over-the-counter medicines (including pain or fever relievers and cough and cold medicines), vitamins and herbals in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
  • Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.
  • Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Monitor the use of medicines prescribed for children and teenagers, such as medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.1
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs. Follow federal guidelines for how to do this (FDA 2011).
  • Participate in National Drug Take Back days recognized by the Drug Enforcement Administration or local take back programs in your community.
Household Chemicals and Carbon Monoxide

Information about drug overdoses and carbon monoxide poisoning can be found on other CDC web pages; see sources of additional information below for the relevant website.

  • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.
Keep Young Children Safe from Poisoning
Be Prepared
  • Put the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Be Smart about Storage
  • Store all medicines and household products up and away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
  • When you are taking or giving medicines or are using household products:
    • Do not put your next dose on the counter or table where children can reach them—it only takes seconds for a child to get them.
    • If you have to do something else while taking medicine, such as answer the phone, take any young children with you.
    • Secure the child safety cap completely every time you use a medicine.
    • After using them, do not leave medicines or household products out. As soon as you are done with them, put them away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
    • Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home. Ask guests to store drugs where children cannot find them. Children can easily get into pillboxes, purses, backpacks, or coat pockets.
Proper Disposal

For more information on proper disposal, please see the FDA's web site, Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know

Other Tips
  • Do not call medicine "candy."
  • Identify poisonous plants in your house and yard and place them out of reach of children or remove them.
What To Do If A Poisoning Occurs
  • Remain calm.
  • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
    • the victim’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if available
    • the time of the poison exposure
    • the address where the poisoning occurred
  • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.
Lead

Today at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.

No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is committed to the Healthy People 2020 goals of eliminating blood lead levels ≥ 10 µg/dL and differences in average risk based on race and social class as public health concerns. The program is part of the National Center for Environmental Health's Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services.

Prevention Tips

Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. There are many ways parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead. The most important is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.

How are children exposed to lead?

Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.

Who is at risk?

Children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.

Children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial and ethnic groups and those living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.

What can be done to prevent exposure to lead?

It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child spends a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.

Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.

Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.

Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.

Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, you should clean and isolate all sources of lead. Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead.

Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.

Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top sash.

Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside.

Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, if possible. Until the bare soil is covered, move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house. If you have a sandbox, cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box. That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.

To further reduce a child’s exposure from non-residential paint sources:

  • avoid using traditional folk medicine and cosmetics that may contain lead;
  • avoid eating candies imported from Mexico;
  • avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware to store or cook foods or liquids that are not shown to be lead free;
  • remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children.
  • use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.);
  • shower and change clothes after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stained glass, making bullets, or using a firing range.

Resources