Seven Ways You Can Help Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

A fear of any new parent, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (commonly known as SIDS) is a leading cause of death for infants in their first 12 months of life and occurs when a baby dies (usually in their sleep) without explanation or warning.

SIDS stock photo

Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes SIDS, but some theorize that it has something to do with defects in the area of an infant’s brain that’s responsible for controlling breathing and waking from sleep. Others believe that in addition to these brain abnormalities, environmental stressors and the infant’s stage of development also play a role.

There’s nothing you can do to fully prevent SIDS, but there are various steps you can take to reduce its risk. Here’s what you can do to help keep your baby safe:

Have your baby sleep on his or her back
Whether it’s naptime or nighttime, the safest sleep position for your baby through age one is on his or her back. While time on the stomach (often referred to as tummy time) is definitely important to your infant’s development, this should happen while your baby is awake rather than during their sleep time.

Be sure not to fall into the belief that it’s ok for your baby to sleep on their stomach once in a while—research shows that babies who typically sleep on their backs but are then positioned to sleep on their stomachs are at a higher risk for SIDS.

Avoid soft sleep surfaces
Couches, sofas, and other soft surfaces are dangerous to your baby’s health while sleeping. Instead, you’ll want to put your baby to sleep on a flat, firm surface specifically designed for infants. If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, infant carrier, or stroller, move them to a firm sleep surface as soon as you can.

Keep bedding and soft objects out of your baby’s sleeping area
Blankets, pillows, and other soft objects in your baby’s sleeping area increase their risk of suffocation. Once your baby reaches age one, these objects are probably ok, but before then it’s far safer for your child to sleep in a space without any soft objects, experts say.

Have your baby sleep in your room
Research shows that babies who share a room with their parents for the first six to 12 months of their lives have a reduced risk of SIDS. But this doesn’t mean you should have your baby share your bed, as this puts infants at risk of suffocation, strangulation, and SIDS.

Don’t smoke around your baby
Exposure to secondhand smoke is a risk factor for SIDS, and so is a mother smoking during pregnancy. You’ll want to keep your baby away from anyone who is smoking, as well as away from areas where people recently have been smoking.

Make sure your baby sleeps at a comfortable temperature
It’s important not to let your baby get too hot while sleeping. Keep an eye on the temperature of the room, making sure it’s not too hot, and avoid overdressing your baby at bedtime. If your baby is sweating or appears hot, remove some of their clothing. 

Give your baby a pacifier
Sleeping with a pacifier may reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS. But since objects in your baby’s sleeping area can be dangerous, make sure the pacifier isn’t attached to a string, cord, stuffed animal, or anything else. If you’re breastfeeding, wait about a month before giving your baby a pacifier.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Understanding Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment & Risk Factors

As the second most common type of cancer among women in the United States, breast cancer affects somewhere around one in eight women (12%) at some point in their lifetime. Though the death rates for this disease have fallen over the past few decades thanks to improved treatment and detection, the death rates are still higher than for any other cancer besides lung cancer.

Breast Cancer stock photo

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Breast cancer occurs when cancer cells form in the breast tissue. Some people do not experience any signs of breast cancer at all, but here are some common signs you will want to keep in mind:

  • Discharge from the nipple that isn’t breastmilk.
  • A new lump in your breast or armpit.
  • Pain within any part of your breast, including the nipple.
  • Irritation of the skin on your breast and/or dimpling of the breast skin.
  • Pulling in of the nipple.
  • Redness or flaking skin around the nipple
  • Changes to your breast’s shape or size.

Detecting Breast Cancer
On their own, none of the signs or symptoms we just mentioned indicate that you have breast cancer. But if you notice any of these signs or have any concerns about your health, it’s important to see a physician as soon as possible for further testing and information.

Some of the most common tests doctors use in diagnosing breast cancer include physical exams and health histories, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), clinical breast exams, breast ultrasounds, mammograms, and biopsies. Detection is extremely important in finding breast cancer early and being able to treat it before the cancer has a chance to spread or become incurable.

According to the CDC, the two most common types of breast cancer are:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma: Where the cancer cells form in the breast ducts (the part of the breast that carries milk to the nipple) and then grow outside that area into other parts of the breast tissue, in some cases spreading beyond the breasts into other parts of the body.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: Where the cancer cells spread from the breast lobules (the breast glands that produce milk) into nearby breast tissues and sometimes into other parts of the body.

Treating Breast Cancer
Doctors treat breast cancer in many ways, and specific treatment varies from person to person depending on the type of cancer, the extent to which it spreads throughout the body (which is something called metastasis), and how the individual responds to treatment.

Some common treatments are surgery, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. Many other forms of treatment are tested in clinical trials.

The Risk Factors
Some people are at a higher risk for breast cancer than others. You may be at increased risk if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, or if you have inherited mutations in your BRCA genes that make them more likely to divide and change in ways that could potentially lead to cancer.

In some cases, people who are at high risk for breast cancer will have surgery to reduce their risk. This could be a mastectomy, where the breast tissue is removed, or a salpingo-oophorectomy, where the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed.

Aside from family history and genetic mutations, other risk factors for breast cancer include aging (most breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women older than 50), early menstrual periods (before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55), having dense breasts, a personal history of breast cancer, and having radiation therapy to the chest or breast region in the past.

All of these factors are out of your control, but you do have control over a few risk factors. Lack of physical activity and exercise, taking certain oral contraceptives and hormones, being overweight or obese after menopause, and high alcohol consumption all put you at an increased risk for breast cancer.

So what exactly can you do to lower your risk? Exercise, maintain a healthy weight, keeping your alcohol consumption to one drink each day or less, and consult with your physician about the risks related to some oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. All of these may help lower your risk of getting breast cancer.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Ovarian Cancer

Rates of ovarian cancer diagnoses have fallen over the past 20 years, but it’s still the most deadly cancer of the female reproductive system. The disease is expected to kill nearly 14,000 women this year, while more than 22,000 will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

woman consults with her gynecologist in the gynecologist's office

But it doesn’t affect all age groups the same. Ovarian cancer is most common among women between the ages of 50 and 60, and rare among women who are under 40. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Bloating
  • Feeling full quickly or having trouble eating
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal pain
  • Frequent need to urinate

The American Cancer Society explains that these symptoms often appear for reasons aside from ovarian cancer, but that when caused by ovarian cancer they will be persistent (such as more than 12 times each month) and also outside of the norm for you. Other ovarian cancer symptoms include back pain, fatigue, pain during sexual intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding (especially after menopause), abnormal vaginal discharge, constipation, upset stomach, and menstrual cycle changes.

Researchers don’t fully know or understand what causes ovarian cancer, but they do know some of the risk factors associated with it. These include: aging, being obese or overweight, having your first full-term pregnancy after age 35, never having a full-term pregnancy, having in vitro fertilization (IVF), inherited gene mutations, taking estrogen after menopause, and a family history of ovarian cancer. But it’s important to understand that the presence of these risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll get the disease, nor do these risk factors need to be present in order for someone to get the disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, around 94% of patients with ovarian cancer live more than five years after being diagnosed if the diagnosis is made early, yet only around 20% of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage. Most of the time, ovarian cancer isn’t detected until it’s spread beyond the ovaries into the pelvis and abdomen—a point at which it’s more difficult to treat.

Some of the best ways to work toward early detection and treatment include: yearly women’s health exams that include a pelvic exam, screening tests if you’re a high risk patient for this illness, seeing a doctor if you experience the signs and symptoms outlined above, and discussing your risk factors with a physician, particularly if you have a family history of ovarian and/or breast cancer.

Most ovarian cancer is treated with a combination of surgery (to remove the cancer tissue) and chemotherapy (to kill or shrink the cancer), but the specific treatment will vary from person to person according to their illness and the stage at which it was detected. If you have a family history of this illness, are experiencing any of its signs and symptoms, or have any concerns about ovarian cancer, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable doctor.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.