Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the condition given by the coroner when no other cause or explanation for the death of a child under the age of one can be found. SIDS occurs most often to children between the ages of two and four months. A greater number of deaths happen during the winter months, and the most deaths happen to children under the age of six months.
Researchers believe that rather that a single cause of SIDS, there are events that place an infant at a greater risk for a combination of factors that may cause death. The number one factor in SIDS is the infant’s sleep position. Since 1992 the experts have advised parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs. This alone has reduced the number of SIDS cases by 50%. Sleeping on their back, opens the airway, reducing the chance of SIDS.
· Other risk facts include:
· Exposure to tobacco smoke, even the residue on a caregiver’s clothes.
· Low Birth Weight
· Mother’s age at birth and/ or lack of prenatal care
· Child’s Race. (African American infants are twice as likely at Caucasian infants to be affected by SIDS and American Indian and Alaskan Native babies are three times more likely than a white baby to die of SIDS.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that parents of young infants always put their infants to sleep on their backs, even for naps . Parents need to make sure that all of their caregivers are consistently placing the baby on its back. A higher number of SIDS deaths occur when a normally back sleeping baby is placed on its stomach for a nap.
Another recommendation from the National Institute of Child Health, is about the bed itself. An infant’s bed should be free of toys, pillows, blankets or crib padding. Many new parents want to decorate the baby’s crib to match their nursery. An infant’s sleep area should consist of a firm mattress and sheet. If the weather dictates using a blanket, the blanket should be tucked into the sides and bottom of the mattress and only cover the baby about waist high. This is so keep the baby’s face from becoming covered and re-breathing their expelled air.
Co-sleeping is considered a risk factor of SIDS. If you bring your baby to bed to breast-feed, make sure to return them to their own bed to avoid the baby becoming overheated or turned in a position that may restrict their breathing.
World-wide rates of SIDS have declined dramatically since the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign began in the U.S. in 1992 and around the world over the following years. I have included a graph, which indicates the number of SIDS death over the last decades.
While I do not have any personal experience with SIDS, I do work with families and young infants everyday. I alays try to make new parents aware of the risk factors and help them make changes that will lower their infant’s risk.
American S. I. D. S. Institute. (2009). Reducing the risk of SIDS. Retrieved from http://sids.org/nprevent.htm
Hauck, F. R., & Tanabe, K. O. (2008, September 1). International trends in sudden infant death syndrome: Stabilization of rates require further action. [Electronic version]. Pediatrics, 3.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (Publisher). (2005). Safe sleep for you baby