What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (sometimes called "crib death") is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete postmortem and investigation of the death scene and case history.
SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between one month and one year of age - although most SIDS deaths occur between two and four months of age.
In SIDS deaths, what usually happens is the parents go to check on their supposedly sleeping infant and find him or her dead. This is one of the worst tragedies a parent can face - a tragedy that leaves these parents with an air of sadness and a feeling of vulnerability that lasts for the rest of their lives. Since modern medicine can not tell these grieving parents why their baby has died, these bereaved parents often blame themselves and other innocent people. Their lives are changed forever.
As SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion (no other reason is to blame for the death of the baby) the stunning lack of answers is what makes SIDS so difficult for grieving parents to understand.
Always put baby on their BACK to sleep.
Cause of SIDS:
There have been a number of theories proposed to explain sudden infant death syndrome, however, as of this publishing, the cause of SIDS is unknown. There are, however, many things that parents can do to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Tests for SIDS:
Autopsy results may be unable to confirm a cause of death but may be able to further the existing knowledge about sudden infant death syndrome.
Certain states may require an autopsy in the event of an unexplainable death.
Epidemiology Of SIDS:
SIDS occurs in 0.7 in 1000 live births.
The peak age for SIDS is two to four months; 95% of SIDS cases are before six months of age.
A higher percentage of males are affected by SIDS.
SIDS is more common in the wintertime.
SIDS is more likely to occur with increasing birth order (i.e. not the firstborn)
Reducing The Risk Of SIDS (by the American SIDS Institute):
There is no one way to prevent all SIDS deaths as the cause of the syndrome is undetermined.
Prenatally Reduce Risk of SIDS:
Routine prenatal care starting in the first few months of pregnancy.
Do not smoke, use cocaine, or use heroin.
Do not become pregnant during the teenage years. The SIDS rate decreases for babies born to older mothers.
Wait a least one year between the birth of one child and the next pregnancy.
To Reduce Risk For SIDS:
Always - ALWAYS - place a baby to sleep on their back, even if they sleep more soundly on their side or stomach. ALWAYS place them on their back.
Do not place a baby on its side to sleep as side-sleeping is unstable.
Place babies in a baby bed with a firm mattress.
Place nothing in the bed - no bumpers, no blankets, no pillows, no positioning devices, and no toys. Soft mattresses and heavy covering are associated with a higher risk for SIDS.
Place the baby's crib in the parent's room until the infant is six months old. Studies show that infants are safest when they are close to their mothers.
Do not place your baby to sleep in an adult bed. Adult beds are not safe for infants.
Do not fall asleep with the baby in a chair.
Avoid exposing infant to tobacco smoke. The greater the exposure to tobacco smoke, the greater the risk for SIDS.
Do not over-clothe a sleeping infant. Keep infant's room a comfortable temperature. Overheating a baby will increase the risk of SIDS.
Breastfeed babies when possible. Studies show that breastfed babies have a decreased risk for SIDS.
Avoid exposing infant to those with respiratory infections and those who may have the stomach flu. SIDS often occurs in association with minor respiratory or gastrointestinal infection.
Offer infant a pacifier.
If infant gags excessively or has periods of apnea (not breathing), going limp or turning blue, seek attention of pediatrician immediately.
Discuss this list with all caregivers.
Make sure infant has routine well-baby visits with a pediatrician.
If you are in crisis and need immediate assistance from a SIDS crisis counselor, call 1-800-421-3511
Related Pages on Band Back Together:
First Candle: nonprofit health organization uniting parents, caregivers and researchers nationwide with government, business and community service groups to advance infant health and survival.
SIDS Resources: website devoted to promoting safe practices which reduce the risk of infant death and to provide bereavement support for families who have lost babies.