It will help you to know that Boston Children’s Hospital has a vast amount of experience educating parents on strategies to dramatically minimize the risk if you are worried that your child or grandchild is in danger of SIDS.
What are SIDS?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a baby less than 1 year old that dies unexpectedly and unexplainedly. If the baby’s death remains unexplained, even after a death scene examination, an autopsy, and a review of the clinical history, a diagnosis of SIDS is produced.
SIDS is part of a broader group called SUDI (sudden accidental death in infancy) of accidental (as opposed to unexplained) child deaths. This SUDI group also involves babies who die unexpectedly but whose causes of death are later clarified (infection, brain abnormality, cardiac dysfunction, etc.).
Who is at risk of experiencing SIDS?
SIDS is an enigmatic condition, because the explanation can not be defined by its own meaning. But there are some risk factors.
Every year, approximately 2,300 children die of SIDS in the United States. Some children are at greater risk than others. SIDS, for instance, is more likely to affect a baby between 1 and 4 months of age, is more common in boys than girls, and most deaths occur during the months of fall , winter, and early spring.
The following are factors that may put a baby at greater risk of dying from SIDS:
Children who sleep on their stomach or hand instead of their back
When resting, overheating
A dormant surface that is too light, with fluffy blankets or toys
Mothers who smoke (three times more likely to have a baby with SIDS) during pregnancy
Passive smoke exposure from mothers, husbands, and others in the household doubles the risk of SIDSS for an infant.
Moms who are under the age of 20 at the time of their first pregnancy
Children born to mothers who have had little, late, or no prenatal treatment
Babies whose birth weight is premature or low
Getting a sibling who passed away from SIDS
Are there any explanations that explain why SIDS happens?
Although the cause of SIDS is unclear, many physicians and researchers agree that SIDS is associated with issues with the baby’s ability to wake up from sleep, detect low oxygen levels, or blood carbon dioxide buildup. They will re-breathe exhaled carbon dioxide while babies are sleeping face down. Rising levels of carbon dioxide usually activate nerve cells in the brainstem that stimulate the respiratory and arousal centers of the brain. Then the baby wakes up, turns his head and breathes more easily to get more oxygen. However, SIDS babies can fail to wake up.
To explain how SIDS happens, the “Triple-Risk Model” for SIDS has been proposed. The model holds that when three conditions exist concurrently, SIDS occurs:
The child has an underlying abnormality (e.g., brain stem) that makes him unable to respond to blood levels of low oxygen or high carbon dioxide.
The child is introduced to a triggering event, such as sleeping face down on his tummy.
These activities take place during a critical period in the development of the child, i.e. the first 6 months of life.
How can SIDS be diagnosed?
If no cause of death can be found after a death scene examination, an autopsy, and a review of the clinical history, a baby is confirmed to have died from SIDS. Therefore, SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion: only after all possible factors have been removed is SIDS as a cause of death decided.
Should they avoid SIDS?
Since the potential causes of SIDS are still being studied by researchers at Children’s and elsewhere, there is currently no way to “prevent” the syndrome from developing. But you can vastly minimize the risk of SIDS for your baby by:
Placing your kid on his back to sleep
Using a solid sleeping surface and holding fuzzy blankets out of his crib and stuffed animals
Do not overheat your child or his bed while he is sleeping.
Do not smoke while you are pregnant and do not encourage someone around your baby to smoke.
For a more complete list of precautions, see The Treatments.
SIDS is a mystery condition, and the explanation can not be defined by its very meaning. Researchers in children have discovered clear evidence that SIDS has a biological basis and continue to work to determine the root causes and determine babies at risk.
Who’s in danger
Sleeping babies on their stomachs
Babies whose birth weight is premature or low
Babies who get overheated while sleeping
Babies who sleep on a surface that is too soft, or who have soft blankets and bumper pads
Children who have a sibling who died of SIDS or whose family background involves failure to prosper
Place your baby to sleep on his back
Hold fuzzy covers out of his crib and stuffed toys
When he sleeps, do not overheat the child or his room.
Don’t let anyone smoke around your kids.
Breastfeeding the child
Smoking by parents raises the risk of SIDS
Smoking-induced diseases kill nearly half a million people a year in the United States. More than 6,000 kids and teens smoke their first cigarette each day, prompting anti-smoking efforts and medical alerts, and half of those will become daily smokers. Pregnant moms who smoke raise the risk of SIDS in their kids. One of the best things you can do for your baby’s health and your own is to stop smoking.