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The Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Two years ago when Nick Miller died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, his parents and other relatives were unable to find much information about the disease.

“The closest support was in Colorado,” Nick’s aunt, Kathleen Gillgannon said.

That will soon change.

Gillgannon has worked with the national SIDS Alliance to establish a chapter in Cheyenne that will open by next summer and serve the entire state.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s predictable or preventable, and it’s not.”

SIDS is the name given for the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation. It’s the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year.

Gillgannon found data that showed an average of nine Wyoming babies die from SIDS each year, but she thinks there may be more.

“We had the first SIDS walk a year ago, and 250 people showed up,” she said.

Parents brought photos of their children and posted them on a memorial board, a practice that will continue Saturday at this year’s walk.

Laura Reno of the SIDS Alliance said she is pleased resources and support will be available in Wyoming.

“Every family that experiences a death will have accurate information in their hands,” she said. “We want to reduce the risk of babies dying in Wyoming.”

The alliance has developed a risk-reduction list, but Gillgannon said parents should know that the methods aren’t guaranteed.

“We know the risk reducers have reduced the incidence of SIDS. We just don’t know why,” she said. “We have found people who have done everything right, and it still happened.”

Mounting evidence suggests some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make them vulnerable to the syndrome, according to the alliance’s Web site.

Recommendations to reduce SIDS include placing a baby on his or her back to sleep, using a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib or bassinet, eliminating fluffy, loose bedding, keeping the baby’s head uncovered, and preventing smoking around the child.

Gillgannon can be reached at (307) 634-9622.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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