Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is when an otherwise healthy baby dies unexpectedly and abruptly, and the cause of his or her death is not clarified.
And after a rigorous investigation, a reason can not be found for the cause of death. Sudden infant death syndrome is also known as crib death, typically happens when a child is sleeping.
While Sudden infant death syndrome is considered uncommon, in children between the age of 1 month and one year, it is the most common cause of death. It most often occurs between 2 and 4 months of age.
In 2018, in the United States, nearly 1,300 babies died of Sudden infant death syndrome.
Symptoms of Sudden infant death syndrome
Sudden infant death syndrome doesn’t have any obvious symptoms. It usually occurs suddenly and unexpectedly to infants who seem to be healthy.
Causes of Sudden infant death syndrome
The exact cause of Sudden infant death syndrome is unclear, although some possible causes are being looked at by scientists.
Some of these potential causes that are being investigated include:
- A type of apnea (periods of stopped breathing while sleeping)
- Abnormality in the part of the brain that regulates respiration.
- Low birth weight
- Premature births or multiple births
- Sudden infant death syndrome family history
- Second-hand smoke or smoking by mothers during pregnancy
- Race (African American and Native American children are twice as likely to die of Sudden infant death syndrome than other races for reasons not known)
- Male babies have a slightly higher risk than females
- Young mum, a young mother (under the age of 20)
- During cold or winter weather, more frequent (although that statistic may be changing)
- Excess heat
- co-sleep (sharing a bed with a parent or caregiver)
- An unstable or old crib
- Bedding that’s too light or a mattress
- A crib that has soft objects in it
- When eating or sleeping, using a sleep positioner or wedge, which is not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration
- Not using a sleeping pacifier
- Failure to breastfeed
- Respiratory Infection
Reducing Sudden infant death syndrome risk
Sudden infant death syndrome has no known trigger and is thus not preventable. But Sudden infant death syndrome does have several risk factors that are established.
Although it is difficult to eliminate any of the dangers, many can be avoided or minimized.
- Placing babies less than 12 months old to sleep on their stomach or side is the most important risk factor. That’s why when you put them to sleep for the night or a nap, the most important thing you can do to reduce the chance of Sudden infant death syndrome is to lay your baby on their back.
- Another phase in Sudden infant death syndrome prevention is to put your child to sleep with a pacifier, even though it actually comes out of the mouth of the infant. Using the pacifier only though. The pacifier should not be tied to the baby’s clothes, bedding, or a stuffed animal on a string around your baby’s neck.
- If you’re breastfeeding, you might want to wait before using a pacifier before your baby feeds easily. Usually, this can take about a month or so.
- Other ways to decrease the risk of Sudden infant death syndrome are available. The following include some of these:
- During pregnancy or after birth, do not smoke, use alcohol, or abuse medications.
- In your home or around your kid, don’t let anyone smoke.
- During your pregnancy, get daily prenatal treatment.
- When they are sleeping, hold your baby close to you, in the same room, but not in the same bed.
- Avoid co-sleeping with or letting your child sleep with other children or adults (bed-sharing).
- When putting your baby down to sleep, remove toys, bumper pads, covers, sleep positioners, and pillows from the crib.
- When putting them down to sleep, stop overwrapping your baby (swaddling).
- Use a crib mattress certified for protection and put a fitted sheet over it.
- To help reduce the danger of Sudden infant death syndrome, breastfeed your infant.
- Don’t depend on baby monitors or gadgets that say the risk of Sudden infant death syndrome is minimized. They don’t work and could have problems with protection.
Losing a baby can be devastating for every cause. However, beyond those of sadness and remorse, losing a baby to Sudden infant death syndrome may have extra emotional consequences. In order to try to find the cause of your baby’s death, there will also be a mandatory investigation and autopsy, which may add to the emotional toll. As you and your family work through your loss, these are only some of the tools available to you. As well as grief support groups, several churches still provide counselling.
Furthermore, a child’s loss may strain the relationship between spouses as well as have an emotional effect on any other family children.
It’s important to get help for these reasons. For those who have lost a child, there are many support groups where you can find people who understand how you are feeling. For both the grief process and your relationship with your partner, therapy can also be beneficial.
Many of the organizations providing support for parents who have lost a child include the following:
- The Compassionate Friends
- First Candle
- MISS Foundation
- Lullaby Trust (based in the United Kingdom)
Takeaway and Outlook
Sudden infant death syndrome does not have a trigger, and it is not always possible to avoid it. Taking effective measures, however, will help reduce the risks of your infant.
It is also important to see your doctor during pregnancy, as well as your baby’s doctor after giving birth, for all routine tests.
It’s important to get help if you have lost a child to Sudden infant death syndrome. You’ll need to work through your grief, and with the aid of people who understand, this will be easier to do.
Remember, for everyone, grief takes time and is different. One of the best things you can do is, to be honest about how you feel as you work through your painful loss, with your loved ones and others in your support circle.
- Do not use infant sleep positioners due to the risk of suffocation. (2019): FDA
- Fast facts about Sudden infant death syndrome: NIH
- Sudden infant death syndrome (Sudden infant death syndrome): Mayo Clinic
- Sudden infant death syndrome: Marchofdimes
- Sudden infant death syndrome (Sudden infant death syndrome): NHS
- Sudden unexpected infant death and sudden infant death syndrome: About SUID and Sudden infant death syndrome: CDC
- What is Sudden infant death syndrome/SUID?: SID
- Dr Jeff Hersh: Understanding SIDS – News – The Enterprise