Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the death of a baby younger than 1 year without a known cause. Typically, the child’s death occurs during his sleep. Nobody should be held responsible for the child’s death occurred by the SIDS, and SIDS may not be either foreseen nor prevented. In case there are known causes of death, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, then is not considered to be SIDS. SIDS has some risk factors and also some method can prevent the occurrence of SIDS, such as safe sleeping. Of course, safe sleeping is just 1 part of preventing SIDS but by the end of this article, you’ll learn how to keep your baby safe.
SIDS is considered the cause of death if other causes are not found and only after a complete set of analysis. Although it is very rare, SIDS is one of the most common causes of death of children aged between 1 month and 12 months. Most cases occur in children aged between 2 and 4 months.
Causes of SIDS
The real causes of SIDS are unknown. However, there are some risk factors, such as a low weight at birth, premature birth, lack of adequate care during pregnancy, mother younger than 20 years, and exposure to cigarettes smoke.
Statistically, the boys are more affected than the girls and the incidence of SIDS is higher during the winter.
Some studies concluded that SIDS may result from the brain’s inability to control the body’s temperature or breathing during the first few months of the baby’s life. With the maturation of the brain, the risk of SIDS is reduced.
However, more studies are needed to determine the relationship between the brain functions and the SIDS.
Besides these causes, some specialists consider that genetic predisposition to SIDS, hidden development disorders, and a bad baby’s sleeping environment are increasing the risk of SIDS.
Symptoms of SIDS
SIDS has no premonitory symptoms. Babies who die from the disease:
- can not be resuscitated
- appear to be healthy before being put to bed
- show no signs that would have struggled, and usually, the baby is found dead by the parents in the same position as it was placed when put to sleep
Only about 5% of babies who die of SIDS have a history of life-threatening events but the connection between SIDS and these events is not yet known. Some of these life-threatening events are periods of apnea longer than 20 seconds, pale skin without any known cause, the body stiffens, or flabby body.
Also, the baby can drown in its own saliva or regurgitation.
No medical investigation can determine if the baby is in danger of sudden death, or not.
A more thorough investigation is done after every incident of suspected SIDS. Baby’s funeral can be made before pronouncing the forensic report.
The investigations to be carried out are:
- Autopsy conducted by the coroner (ideally, a forensic doctor specializing in children) X-rays, blood tests and tissue to rule out other causes of death
- The medical history of the baby and the family
- An examination of the place where the baby died
It can’t be stated if a baby has an increased risk of SIDS. Some devices are used to monitor the breathing in babies considered at high risk of respiratory disorders. These devices have an audible alarm that detects a pause in breathing. However, respiration monitoring devices do not seem to prevent SIDS.
There is no cure for sudden infant death syndrome. Deaths from SIDS can not be predicted or prevented. However, you can take precautions to prevent death by SIDS. For example, a very important thing is placing your baby to sleep on his back.
There are some mattresses that have a ventilation system, which is said to reduce the risk of SIDS, but specialized medical associations recommend not to use these mattresses because they are useless and no such products can prevent SIDS.
The only accepted methods that really decrease the occurrence of SIDS are methods regarding the the sleeping of the babies, but safe sleeping is just 1 part of preventing SIDS since there are some risk factors that should be avoided way before your child comes into this world.
Safe sleeping may be preventing SIDS
One of the most known methods to prevent the SIDS occurrence is safe sleeping. Safe sleeping in the case of a baby represents all the efforts made by parents to ensure a safer sleeping environment for their baby. Some aspect should be taken into consideration when we’re talking about the fact that safe sleeping may be preventing SIDS:
- Place the baby’s crib in the same room your bed is. By doing so, you’ll be able to observe your kid from time to time, during the night, and you’ll be capable to faster intervene when potentially dangerous situations occur (baby is snoring or presenting apnea, turned on a side, pulled the blanket over his face, and so on). On the other hand, the baby’s sleep will be much more peaceful feeling your presence and protection.
- Keep the room’s temperature at a cozy level. SIDS is more frequent during winters because. The brain of the baby is still developing, and so is the hypothalamus portion of the baby’s brain, which is responsible for regulating body’s temperature among other functions. Being in progress of developing, a cold environment could be too much for the baby’s brain to handle and regulate the body’s temperature, and so, hypothermia may occur and, eventually SIDS. In addition, you should know that in the first weeks of your baby’s life, your baby will not be able to properly regulate his body’s temperature, so keeping your baby’s room heated at a comfortable temperature is mandatory at least in the first weeks of your baby’s life.
- The position in which your baby sleeps may affect his sleep and may put him at risk. The safest position in which you should put your baby to sleep in on his back. This theory has been statistically proven as true. A significant decrease in SIDS cases number was recorded in the years that followed the press release made by the American Academy of Pediatrics which stated that the safest sleeping position for a baby is on his back.
Other methods to lower the SIDS occurrence risks
Since safe sleeping is just 1 part of preventing SIDS, several studies have uncovered a number of other methods that lower the risk factors, although the connection between them and the SIDS is not very strong. Still, parents can take the following precautions:
- Quitting smoking during pregnancy and a better care during pregnancy can lower the risks for SIDS. Also, smoking should be prohibited in the proximity of the child, as the passive smoking increases the risks of SIDS.
- Doctors do not recommend babies to sleep in the same bed with their parents. However, if sleeping in the same bed with the baby, the parents should not drink alcohol, smoke, use sedatives, or drugs.
- You should not put anything in the baby’s bed, such as dolls, pads, or whatever can increase the risk of choking.
- Avoid overheating your baby. A room is heated enough if you feel comfortable to sleep only in a short sleeves shirt and thin long pants. The Same temperature is suitable for your baby, so, the child should not be over-dressed. If your baby is sweating it means the temperature is too high.
- Inform your babysitter about SIDS and give tell her how to put the baby to sleep, since she might not know much about SIDS and the ways to lower its risks.
- Apply the methods listed above during day-sleep, too, because almost 20% of the SIDS cases occur during the day.
Keeping in mind that safe sleeping is just 1 part of preventing SIDS, you should also follow the other instructions in order to have a happy healthy baby and to keep him safe from any dangerous situation or disorder that might threaten his life.