Nobody wants to think about the death of a child. Unfortunately, the facts are staggering and should not be ignored. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS, is the leading cause of death of infants aged one month to one year old. This mysterious syndrome, which has many factors and still no set cause, is a heartbreaking occurrence for families. In 2010, the last time a census was taken, more than 2,000 babies died of SIDS. The highest number of SIDS deaths occurs when babies are one to four months of age, when they are beginning to sleep more. In fact, ninety-percent of SIDS deaths occur before six months of age. Knowing the facts about SIDS will help lower your baby’s chances of experiencing this unfortunate syndrome.
SIDS is a type of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, also known as SUID. SUID’s are unexpected deaths of infants under the age of one which have an identified cause of death. These causes can include suffocation, entrapment, infection, indigestion, metabolic disease, trauma, cardiac arrhythmias, and SIDS. SIDS is a sudden yet silent medical disorder that can happen to a baby that seems healthy. SIDS is often called “crib death” because infants pass away in their sleep. However, the crib is not the cause of death. SIDS is an unexpected infant death with no identifiable cause of death after a full investigation. Although there is no definite cause of death, there are three main factors that play a role in a SIDS occurrence.
Scientists are still uncertain as to what the ultimate cause of SIDS is. However, they have identified three main factors which come together in a SIDS event. These researchers call this the “Triple-Risk Model”. The first risk factor is a vulnerable infant. These infants have an underlying brain condition or defect which makes them more susceptible to a SIDS event. The second risk factor is the critical development period. In the first six months of a baby’s life, they experience rapid and continuous changes in their sleeping behaviors and bodily functions. These changes, most of which are not detectable to us as parents, may destabilize an infant’s bodily functions for a short or long period of time. The third risk factor, which is detectable to parents, is outside stressors. These are environmental factors that can further compromise an infant’s safety. These factors can include second hand smoke, stomach sleep position, an upper respiratory infection or overheating. These are not causes for SIDS in and of themselves, but when combined with the first two risk factors, they may contribute to a SIDS occurance. Clearly, the first two factors are out of a parent’s control; however, the outside stressors can and should be considered by parents as a way to lower their baby’s risk of SIDS.
Here are some ways you can keep unnecessary outside stressors away from your child.
Place babies on their back to sleep. Research proves that putting babies on their backs to sleep greatly reduces their risk of a SUID. Research has proven that back sleeping babies carry the lowest risk of SIDS. Not only does back sleeping lower an infant’s risk of SIDS, it also lowers their chances of getting fever, stuffy noses, and ear infections.
Do not smoke around your baby. In addition, do not expose infants to clothing or textures, such as their car seat, your jacket, or furniture, which may have been exposed to smoke.
Create a safe sleep environment. This means a clear sleep space, nothing covering or able to cover the baby’s face, no loose blankets, and air free of smoke. Although co-sleeping has become a popular practice, it is recommended that room sharing is the safest sleep environment for a baby.
Although there is no set cause for SIDS, research continues in hopes of discovering it. By lowering outside stressors, parents will provide infants with the safest environment possible.