From Asahi Shimbun, January 21, 1997, Morning Edition

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Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Providing Information to Childcare Professionals
Reports Prepared Based on Bitter Experience
Mrs. Noriko Nakamura, Hiroshima Day Nursery Operator

Mrs. Noriko Nakamura (37, photo), who operates a day nursery at her home in Hiroshima, has launched a campaign to provide operators of childcare facilities and other childcare professionals with information on the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and measures to cope with it if it should occur. Although there are national networks of parents who have lost their children to SIDS, there now exist no place to which childcare practitioners can turn to when SIDS occurs at their facilities. Mrs. Nakamura, who has lost a baby under her care to SIDS and wishes that no one else experience the grief and remorse she has gone through, plans to distribute reports to other childcare professionals on the details of the incident and her subsequent experience, and to answer their questions on the telephone.

In July 1995, an infant died of SIDS at the day nursery operated by Mrs. Nakamura. Frantic efforts were made to revive the child immediately after a caretaker noticed that he was not breathing, and were continued in the ambulance and at the hospital, all to no avail. In the midst of the turmoil beset with grief and trauma, the nursery staff were besieged with police investigations and media news gathering activities.

Mrs. Nakamura made desperate efforts to cope with the situation while being subjected to heartless remarks suggesting that the caretakers might have abused the child. “I was simply mortified by my failure to return the infant fit and alive to his parents. My heart ached with the sense of guilt toward the family,” says she.

Three weeks later she learned that the cause of death was SIDS. Nonetheless, being tormented by the uncertainty of the situation she was in, and not knowing what she should do next or how she should cope with the situation, she wasted away her days in great anxiety.

Mrs. Nakamura consulted with the volunteers of SIDS Family Association Japan (based in Tokyo) about the situation. Although she was thankful to them for their kind responses, she was daunted by the knowledge that she did not belong to the family of a SIDS victim.

Although she wanted to obtain information from day nursery operators who had experienced SIDS, she was unable to start a dialog with them as many of them turned down her requests. She was bitterly disappointed by their refusal, but she was also painfully aware of their wishes to remain silent and be left alone as they were beleaguered by sorrow and anguish.

The dialog with the family of the deceased infant lasted until the middle of last February. The words of the child’s mother, who said “Please don’t let my baby die in vain; please don’t forget my baby’s death.” inspired Mrs. Nakamura’s decision to serve as a provider of information on SIDS for childcare practitioners who had had no place turn to until then.

Last July, Mrs. Nakamura finally completed a report detailing her experience of SIDS. She distributed copies of the report to all the families of the infants she was caring for at that time. From here on, she intends to distribute booklets published by SIDS Family Association Japan to other childcare practitioners and give advice to them if requested.

Mrs. Nakamura urges her colleagues in the profession to actively seek knowledge of preventing SIDS instead of merely wishing, in fear, that SIDS will not occur at their childcare facilities.

For inquiries, contact Mommy Home Childcare Service.

The SIDS Research Team of the Ministry of Health and Welfare defines sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as: “a syndrome that brought the sudden death of an infant which could not be predicted on the basis of the previous health and medical history of the victim, and which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation including examination of the death scene and a complete autopsy.” SIDS is easily confused with an accidental death from suffocation or child abuse. It is the second leading cause of death of infants in Japan, claiming approximately 600 lives each year.

This article is translated into English by Mommy Home Childcare Service and reproduced here with permission of Komei Shimbun. Mommy Home Childcare Service is solely responsible for the accuracy of translation. All acts of copyright infringement including reproduction, translation, transmission, republication, and distribution of this material without written permission of Komei Shimbun, the copyright holder, are prohibited.

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