Understanding and Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Remembering when my children were newborns, I would not have wanted to imagine the pain and helplessness of laying them down to sleep, and later not being able to wake them up. For many parents, the death of a child is almost too much to bare. Now just imagine if that child died suddenly and without any apparent cause. Sadly, parents experience this devastation yearly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are about 4,000 infants deaths in the United States each year. Its estimated that more than half of those deaths are the result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, more commonly referred to as SIDS, is a medical mystery that causes approximately 2,500 infant deaths in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, a number of SIDS cases are associated with babies who were considered to be healthy before their untimely death. Therefore, it is important for parents to educate themselves about the techniques that they can utilize to help reduce their baby’s risk of dying from SIDS.
What are the Main Risk Factors of SIDS?
The majority of SIDS deaths happen while a baby is sleeping. In fact, it is often difficult for medical examiners to find any specific reason for an infant’s death from SIDS aside from the fact that they were asleep. However, SIDS is more likely to occur if the baby has not yet had their first birthday and falls asleep on their stomach.
Parents may not often think about it, but providing a proper sleeping place is very important for a newborn. To help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome medical professional recommend that parents make sure to place their babies on their back to sleep, and do so for the first 12 months of life. When purchasing cribs or baby play yards make sure to follow all safety precautions.
Additionally, there are several other factors that can create an environment that will help SIDS develop. For example, researchers have indicated that exposure to tobacco smoke, being born prematurely, receiving inadequate prenatal care, overheating while sleeping and exposure to drugs, smoking or drinking during pregnancy can all have an impact on whether or not your infant has an increased risk of losing their life to SIDS. It is also important to note that SIDS occurs most often during cold weather, and babies between the ages of two and four months are more likely to succumb to this mysterious medical condition.
Could My Home be Unsafe?
There are several environmental factors that you can introduce into your home environment that could definitely have a negative impact on your infant’s health, including smoking. However, there have been some cases reported that seem to indicate that specific houses and areas have an increased risk of losing babies to SIDS. For example, the Fort Bragg military base lost 10 infants in less than four years who were younger than eight months old. Autopsies indicated that there were no signs of foul play in any of these cases. However, SIDS was only named as the culprit in one of these deaths.
It is important to note that at least two of the infants died while living in the same house. This seems to indicate that there could be something hazardous in the environment of this specific home and perhaps even throughout the entire military housing area. Because of this case study, it is a good idea for parents to research the rate of SIDS cases in any neighborhood that they are considering relocating to. Keep in mind that a low incidence of SIDS in a specific area does not mean that your infant will not be at risk.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides this list of tips to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
1. Always place babies on their backs to sleep.
2. Use the back sleep position every time.
3. Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as as a safety-approved crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet.
4. Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.
5. Avoid letting your baby overheat during sleep.
The best thing that you can do to reduce your baby’s odds of dying from SIDS is to following the above instructions, ensure that you do not create a home environment for them that contains potential triggers such as cigarette smoke, and remember that your infant should always sleep on their back until they are at least 12 months old.
Veteran Journalist Nicole Bailey-Covin has researched Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and reminds parents to always keep a close eye on their newborns while sleeping. She also reminds parents to follow all safety instructions supplied with both baby play yards and cribs. As scientists continue to study the cause of SIDS, parents should do all they can to maintain a healthy environment for the newborn.
Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kekka/425939475/
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