The thought of your healthy baby dying of no apparent reason is an unimaginable nightmare for parents. But unfortunately, it can happen. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the inexplicable and unanticipated death of an outwardly healthy baby. It is also known as crib death owing to the fact that a majority of the babies often die in their cribs.
When an infant death occurs, local investigators launch an in-depth search for the cause of death. After a thorough investigation and they find no probable cause, they usually resort to calling the whole occurrence… Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
In the 1960s over 10,000 sudden unexplained deaths in the United States were attributed to sudden infant death syndrome. Doctors were baffled since these were perfectly healthy babies, who had died, and had not been suffering from any disease prior. Till now SIDS remains the leading cause of babies under the age of 1 year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 there were 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States, of which 1,600 were due to SIDS. This is still the highest occurring cause of infant deaths compared to others, such as accidental suffocation or miscellaneous reasons. SIDS made up 43% of the statistics listed for the cause of infant deaths.
This is a significant decline as compared to 1990 with 130.3 deaths in 100,000 live births due to sudden infant death syndrome. In 2015 39.4 deaths due to SIDS per 100,000 live births. The decline is probably attributed to better education on how to prevent SIDS and better healthcare.
Death usually happens when the baby is asleep so there is no way of telling if the baby had experienced a major issue when they passed. It is most common for babies who are between 1 to 4 months, however it is not restricted to that, it can happen any time of the first year. There is a higher chance that it affects African-American, Native American, and Alaskan baby boys, but not always.
It is not understood by doctors as to why SIDS affects babies of the aforementioned lineages more. The odds are especially high if a sibling or cousin of the baby had passed away due to the same reason. Lastly, the mother’s antics during pregnancy are also known to highly affect the chances of SIDS occurring. If a mother is below the age of 20 and/or smokes, does drugs, and consumes alcohol during the pregnancy the chances increase for sudden infant death syndrome.
For years scientists have studied the reasons that contribute to the strange occurrence of SIDS. Below are some of the findings:
One of the major reasons for infant deaths occurs because babies are usually lying on their stomach while sleeping. Always lay your baby on their back so they have a direct passageway for breathing.
Buy a firm mattress or install a strong surface in the baby’s crib. Avoid putting in lose blankets, pillows, or quilts in the crib. Avoid heavy bulky clothes. Do not leave any stuffed toys behind as your baby sleeps.
Make sure when your kids are sleeping in car seats and strollers that their air passages are not blocked. Check on your baby frequently while in a car seat or stroller and avoid long periods of sleeping in these types of seats.
Do not ever have the baby sleeping in your bed. If you want your baby to sleep in your room move their crib into your room. Even if you take them out of the crib in the middle of the night to breastfeed or to change their diapers, make sure you put them back in their crib.
Do not smoke during your pregnancy or around your newborn. Studies have shown that a baby born to a mother who smoked during her pregnancy is much more likely to die of SIDS.
Experts do not know exactly why babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In many cases it’s still a mystery. Extensive research continues today. The best prevention is use common sense, follow published guidelines and always talk to your pediatrician for additional advice.