by Rachel Y. Moon, M.D. and Fern R. Hauck, M.D., M.S.
"I never intended to be a SIDS researcher," says Rachel Moon about her current focus on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and the book she's co-authored, 14 Ways to Protect Your Baby from SIDS: Safe Sleep Advice from the Experts (Parenting Press, parentingpress.com).
In fact, continues the pediatrician, she was a skeptic when parents were first warned to not put babies to bed on their stomachs. But she and colleagues noticed that those infants who slept on their backs learned to roll over later than babies who slept on their stomachs. Although this turned out to be a small difference in development, it led to asking how babies slept when in child care.
"We discovered that many parents didn't know how child care providers typically did put babies down."
When Dr. Moon's research showed that indeed, babies in child care were more often sleeping on their stomachs, "So of course the next question was, 'Are a lot of babies dying in child care?' "
The answer was 'yes,' and after that, said Dr. Moon, "I was hooked."
Today, determining the causes of unexpected infant death is Dr. Moon's mission. She works as the director of Academic Development for the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where her focus is SIDS among such high-risk populations as African-Americans and infants in child care. She's also involved with nearly a dozen pediatric and SIDS programs, including the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on SIDS.
Children's National refers to Dr. Moon as "an internationally recognized expert in SIDS," and it's easy to see why: an Internet search turns up page after page after page of citations for her publications on issues important to parents and caregivers, child care licensing agencies and health care providers.
The pediatrician and mother of two traveled an interesting path to her SIDS expertise. Born in Hollywood, this child of Korean immigrants moved to Seoul as an adolescent when her missionary parents took an assignment there. She returned to the U.S. to attend Emory University in Atlanta, where she earned both undergraduate and medical degrees. After her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Moon served as a U.S. Air Force pediatrician from 1989 to 1994. She joined the staff of Children's National in 1994.
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