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HEALTH WATCH

It's Time to Turn the Baby Over

August 16, 1994|This Health Watch is compiled by C.A. Wedlan from wire service reports

Singing lullabies is safe. But tucking your baby in on its tummy could prove fatal. Federal and private agencies have launched a campaign for parents to place infants supine in the crib at bedtime to reduce incidents of sudden infant death syndrome.

"Traditionally, American parents have placed their babies on their stomachs to sleep," writes Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "It is a goal of this campaign to reverse this practice and to have nearly all babies sleeping on their back or side."

Almost 6,000 infants--one out of every 1,000 newborns--die of SIDS every year in the United States. SIDS has been reduced by 50% in countries where the practice of placing infants on their backs has been advocated since the 1980s. The new sleep position is recommended only for healthy babies. Those with excessive vomiting or breathing problems may be better off sleeping on their tummies, says John Kattwinkel of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Call (800) 505-CRIB for free materials.

The Doctor Is In --in the Computer

Ten Southern California health-care coalitions will share a $3.6-million grant in telecommunications services from Pacific Bell's California Research and Education Network trust to develop high-speed medical networks. Health facilities, via the information superhighway, will employ filmless X-rays, video-conference examinations, electronic diagnoses, and mechanized bed availability and patient records over a large geographic area.

"This project will have a significant impact on the delivery of patient care for those people who don't have convenient access to an academic medical center," said Dr. Fred George, director of USC Advanced Biotechnical Consortium.

* This health roundup appears in Life & Style on Tuesdays.

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