Supporting SIDS Families: The Public Health Nurse SIDS Home Visit

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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) death has a devastating effect on parents. There is no known cause, so parents experience guilt about what they might have done or not done to contribute to the death. Although some SIDS parents may receive support from family and friends, the public health nurse (PHN) has an important professional role in providing grief support, SIDS education, and offering SIDS resources and referrals. Based on years of clinical practice, we recommend the following: Perform the home visit as soon as possible. Show care and compassion. Personalize the baby by using his or her name and asking to see photographs. Reassure the parents that grief is a process which takes time. Educate about what SIDS is and what it is not. Increasingly, SIDS deaths occur in the presence of risk factors. Explain that risk factors are not causes of death. As an authority in health care, reassuring families that they did not cause their baby's death has a tremendous impact on relieving guilt. Putting newly bereaved SIDS parents in contact with other SIDS parents is one of the most helpful actions a PHN can take to help families.

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