Health department medical director makes recommendations on SIDS, immunizations

July 28, 2014

CADILLAC – During its regular monthly meeting on July 25, 2014, the District Health Department #10 Board of Health heard and approved the following children’s health recommendations from Medical Director, Dr. Robert Graham.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

“SIDS is the most common cause of death of infants one month to twelve months of age,” reported Dr. Graham. “Fortunately, the number of cases of SIDS has fallen significantly in recent years.”

One of the key factors in reducing infant deaths has been the “Back to Sleep” campaign. This program emphasizes the importance of having infants sleep on their backs every time they are put in bed.

A newer campaign, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (, called “Safe to Sleep”, includes additional steps parents can take. This program warns of “co-sleeping”. Co-sleeping is defined as having a baby sleep with another person, especially adults.

“Parents should follow the Safe to Sleep® guidelines to reduce the risk of SIDS,” recommends Dr. Graham. “Always put infants to bed on their backs, on a firm mattress, in clothing that will keep them comfortably warm but not hot, with no toys, blankets, pillows, or bumpers in the bed,” said Dr. Graham. “Children should not be put to bed with another person, or be propped up on pillows to sleep.”

Philosophical Waiver for Immunizations

“Immunization programs have nearly eradicated many preventable diseases; smallpox has been eliminated from the planet,” reported Dr. Graham. “But now, some vaccine-preventable disease numbers are increasing, in part because parents are opting not to have their children vaccinated.”

A waiver for required school and day care vaccinations can be obtained by a parent. Most but not all of the people who develop a vaccine-preventable illness have not been immunized. Some people who develop a vaccine-preventable disease have had less than the recommended number of doses of vaccines, and a few have had a full course of immunizations.

“A very small number of people will have a serious reaction to vaccinations,” said Dr. Graham. “In 23 years as medical director I have not seen any reactions to immunizations except temporary redness and soreness at the injection site.”

Care of someone with a vaccine-preventable disease is very costly. “Recently, an infant was treated in the hospital for a month for whooping cough,” said Dr. Graham. “Thankfully the child recovered. I can’t help but speculate that the child would not have become ill if everyone in her life had been vaccinated.”

A new Michigan Department of Community Health rule would require parents or guardians to be “educated” about the risks of not being vaccinated. “The burden of this educational process would fall on local health departments, and the budget does not provide any appropriation for the educational program,” said Dr. Graham.

Parents are urged to talk to their family doctor about immunizations before they decide whether or not to vaccinate their children. For more information about vaccines in Michigan visit


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