Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is as the phrase suggests the unexpected death of an infant below 1 year. After an autopsy and medical examinations, the cause of death is unexplained. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death among infants below 1 year. In most cases, the child is said to be healthy before being hit by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Sleep
A good percentage of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases are discovered while the baby is sleeping. It is suspected that sleep or sleep environment has a role to play in SIDS. Infants who prone -sleep (sleeping on the stomach) have predisposed to death by SIDS.
SIDS is reported more on some types of beds such as couches, daybeds, and waterbeds. Loose bedding materials can such as blankets and pillows smother the baby leading to death. Beddings or the temperature in the sleep environment can “overheat” the baby leading to death. Infants who share a bed with their parents could be rolled over accidentally by the parent leading to death by strangulation or smothering. An infant can fall down and die while sleeping on an unsafe bed.
The rates of SIDS are high between the ages of 2 and 3 months. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is more common in boys than in girls. Black children are 3 times more likely to die by SIDS compared to their Caucasian counterparts. The “Back to Sleep Campaign” that was done in 1992 is thought to have massively reduced incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This campaign encouraged parents to ensure infants sleep on their backs.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Busting the Myths
The actual cause of SIDS is not known and naturally many myths have come up to fill the gap:
- Vaccines cause SIDS – a study by the Institute of Medicine ruled out this as a possible cause.
- Side sleeping is better than back sleeping- infants sleeping on their side can easily roll to their stomach leading to death.
- An infant sleeping on their back can chock leading to death – this is not true.
- Sleeping on the back flattens the heads
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has no symptoms since it happens unexpectedly. However, here are a few factors thought to increase the rates of death by SIDS:
- Sleeping on the stomach.
- High temperature in the sleep environment.
- Soft and unsafe beddings.
- Excessive use of loose beddings like blankets and pillows.
- Smoking during pregnancy.
- Low birth weight.
- Current or recovering from respiratory infections.
- Family bed-sharing especially in the first months of life.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Useful sleeping Tips
- To avoid suffocation, place your infant to sleep in on their back. It reduces the causes of SIDS by 50%.
- Ensure your baby’s bed mattress is firm. Soft mattresses, sofas, waterbeds increase the cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Stuffed dolls and other fluffy material should be removed from the baby’s sleep environment.
- You avoid overheating, cover the baby a few beddings. The bedroom temperature should be the same as those for adults.
- Ensure that the face of your baby remains uncovered during sleep.
- Offer a pacifier to the baby during naps and bedtime sleep.
- Avoid smoking in the baby’s sleep environment.