As parents, child health is the most important part of our lives. We want them to be safe from all kinds of diseases and medical abnormalities. Amongst various medical conditions, one of the most famous and worrisome one is SIDS. Today we will talk in depth about this health condition found in children. Let’s get right in!
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS?
SIDS, which is also known as sudden infant death syndrome, is the name given to the unexplained death of an infant that usually occurs during their sleep. There is a high risk of SIDS for a baby younger than a year old. SIDS is also called crib death because the infants die in their cribs which is a child’s bedstead with high enclosing. Even healthy babies are observed to get this condition all of a sudden.
While it is still unknown why this sudden death known as crib death happens, it occurs at a stage of the baby’s development, and it might be related to defects in a part of the baby’s brain which helps control breathing and arousal from sleep.
Who Is At Risk of SIDS?
This syndrome is still a mystery to the world, as can be seen by its definition. However, there are some risk factors which might lead to this sudden unexpected death.
In the US alone, SIDS accounts for 2300 baby deaths. SIDS deaths occur in newborns between the age of 1 and 4 months. It is prevalent more among baby boys than girls, and most deaths due to SIDS occur during early spring, fall, and winter months.
Other Causes of SIDS
There are some other SIDS risk factors too.
- SIDS occurs in babies that are born premature and with low birth weight.
- Respiratory infections might increase the baby’s risk for SIDS too.
- Defects found in the brain. At birth, some infants have problems in their brains which lead to an increased risk of SIDS.
- Family history of SIDS.
- Babies who sleep either on their stomach or side instead of their back.
- Secondhand smoke is a major risk factor for SIDS.
- Sleeping on a soft surface such as blankets and soft toys.
- Overheating while they sleep, is a major risk for SIDS.
There are various factors that are found in mothers that increase the baby’s risk and lead to sudden infant death syndrome SIDS. They are as follows:
- Babies born to mothers who are younger than 20 years old at the time of first pregnancy.
- Mothers who smoke cigarettes increase their baby’s risk for SIDS.
- Extensive use of alcohol and illicit drugs increases the risk for SIDS.
- Inadequate prenatal care can be a risk factor in most babies getting SIDS.
How Is SIDS Diagnosed?
In most scenarios, if a baby has died due to unknown reasons, even after a death scene investigation, autopsy, or even clinical history check, then he or she is deemed to have died of sudden infant death syndrome.
In simpler terms, if no other reason for death can be identified, then the baby has passed away as a cause of sudden infant death syndrome SIDS.
Things You Can Do To Prevent SIDS
There are various steps that you can take to prevent SIDS and reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS. Here are some ways you can carry out SIDS prevention.
Make Sure You Put Your Sleeping Baby on Their Back
Sleeping position is important. The most dangerous position that puts your baby at risk of SIDS is if they are stomach sleeping or on their side. Both of them could be risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome in babies.
Based on specific SIDS research, if you put your baby to sleep while they are on their back, it prevents the risk of SIDS by around 50%.
This is a problem that could be a key player in increasing a baby’s risk of SIDS. If you are a chain smoker, you need to stop in order to prevent SIDS. If you are a woman who smokes, chances are, after pregnancy, the baby that will be born might have developed a case of SIDS.
Moreover, young children exposed to smoke are at risk of SIDS as well. You need to make sure there are arrangements in place so that your infant is not exposed to secondhand smoke.
Put The Baby separately in a Baby’s Crib
Yes, it is super important to make sure your baby resides same room as you. However, it is not advised to sleep with your baby in the same bed as you.
The beds that we adults use are unsafe for babies and can be of the many risk factors for SIDS. This is because the baby might suffocate between the headboard slats, the area in between the mattress and bed frame, or even the small space between the wall and the mattress, which lead to sudden unexpected infant death. Moreover, imagine if you, as a large human specimen, roll over and suffocate your infant during sleep. That would be dangerous too.
Make sure your baby resides in the same room as you in their own little baby’s crib, Make sure you don’t use bumper pads which might lead to suffocation too.
Increase The Duration of Breastfeed
There is a 50% chance of reducing infant’s SIDS risk in your baby if you breastfeed them. Although experts and researchers are not sure why this happens, there is a type of breastmilk that keeps away harmful infections that act as the base and breeding ground for SIDS.
However, if you are breastfeeding, make it absolutely certain you are not drinking alcohol.
Immunize The Baby
If your baby is immunized as per the recommendations of the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics), the chance of getting sudden infant death syndrome SIDS gets down by almost 50% compared to those babies who were never completely immunized. So make sure you take all the necessary steps alongside immunization to ensure your baby is fully protected.
Pacifier Might Help When Putting the Baby to Sleep
While a pacifier helps the baby sleep, there is a chance that by using this equipment, you even reduce SIDS risk. While experts are not sure why it happens, the word is pacifiers are super helpful in reducing the risk of SIDS.
Make sure the pacifier is not attached to anything. Moreover, if the pacifier falls out of the baby’s mouth, that’s not an issue either. Use it at sleep time, but if you are breastfeeding, wait for around 3 to 4 weeks to use a pacifier once you are all set on your nursing routine.
Stay Aware of Overheating Your Baby
What your baby wears is way more critical and important compared to what we believe. If you keep your baby warm, then it could be a major concern for SIDS.
As an alternative, make sure your infant is dressed up in light fabrics and comfortable fitting, especially when they are sleeping. Moreover, the room’s temperature must also be controlled and should be such that it is comfortable for you as an adult to reduce the risk of SIDS.
If you are wondering what options you have, you can dress your child in a onesie or pajamas that cover legs, feet, and hands or even use a sleep sack which are all great and comfortable options. Lastly, stay away from using blankets or anything that could potentially cover the baby’s head and make it extremely hot and unbearable.
Let The Baby Sleep On a Firm Mattress
While you should not let your baby fall asleep in your bed but in a crib, it is more important that the baby sleeps on a firm sleep surface. Babies usually are seen sleeping around an environment with soft pillows, soft mattress, crib bumpers, and stuffed toys which puts them at a higher risk.
If you need to ensure your little one is not one of the SIDS babies, you must give up on all this. Just have a flat and firm mattress for the crib and a fitted sheet. No loose blankets, sheets, stuffed animals or quilts of any sort are allowed. They can wait until the infant is at least a year old.
Stay Clear of Any Medical Products
Since the problem has become a pretty big one, it has given room to companies to develop medicines and supplements of all sorts in order to help reduce the risk of SIDS. However, take our word for it, don’t use anything that you can get from the pharmacy.
It is pretty safe to say that avoid all these products that are marketed to solve your SIDS problem or even reduce it. The simple reason behind this is that it is not proven in any way, shape or form that it is impactful, safe, or effective.
Not just medicines but equipment such as Cardiac monitors and electronic respirators have also never been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS. So, to be sure that nothing worsens, if not benefit your infant, then don’t use any of them.
Don’t Give Them Honey
It is pretty common in households to give honey to their small infants. While it is true that honey is great for human development, it can also lead to botulism in infants that are less than the age of 1. Botulism, along with the bacteria that cause it, is linked with SIDS, putting babies at a higher risk.
Remember, it is important to keep yourself updated with the studies and research that are being carried out. They often debunk various acts that we have religiously carried out for ages.
Call The Doctor If Your Baby Seems To Have Any Symptoms
We need to understand that doctors are our friends, not foes. Their opinions are based on facts, and their intent is on the well-being of their patients. Moreover, they have the skill, expertise, and experience to diagnose and understand your state.
So, as parents, it is your duty to consult child care providers who have sound knowledge regarding infant health issues, especially SIDS. Make sure you are doing regular check-ups and routine immunizations to ensure your baby is always safe from developing any symptoms of SIDS.
Can an Infant Recover From SIDS?
It is unfortunate to say that it is almost impossible to differentiate SIDS from other sleep-related deaths. There are no zero warning signs of SIDS, and it is not until the death of the baby that a medical professional can identify that the baby had this deadly and unknown condition.
On the other hand, the best thing you can do is do your homework and reduce these known risk factors of SIDS by keeping yourself well informed and following medical guidelines issued by relevant authorities. Some basic things, such as identifying low birth weight, staying away from smoking, stopping overheating, and immunizing your toddler, should be at your fingertips.
Coping With This Sudden and Unexplained death
The loss of an infant is one of the most tragic experiences a parent or family member can ever bear. Make sure you follow the proper routines and guidelines and are updated regarding what is best for your infant and what isn’t in order to ensure there is no risk of SIDS in your toddler.
Lastly, if you are someone who lost a baby to SIDS, then reach out to people, talk about it, and never get depressed about it. We understand it is heart-wrenching, but we believe that the future holds better for you. While you might think the numbers are alarming, SIDS is pretty rare, and the risk of your baby dying from it are low.
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