In the United States, there are 2,500 families that weep every year after the parents find their sleeping babies dead. The pain and the trauma are just too heavy to bear, and it may take a lifetime to recover. The culprit to be blamed for these situations is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that cannot be explained after a case investigation, autopsy findings, death scene report or clinical history check.
Here are some factors that are associated to the occurrence of SIDS. These include:
– Prenatal complications
– Mother’s abuse of drugs such as heroin during pregnancy
– Exposure to smoke
– Inadequate care and nutrition during pregnancy
– Teenage pregnancy (risk decreases for older mothers)
– Heatstroke due to excessive clothing
– Less than one year between pregnancies
– Soft sleeping surfaces
– Gender (61 % of SIDS victims are males)
– Age (babies within 2-4 months old are more prone)
– Weight (underweight babies are more prone to die of SIDS)
Concerned organizations like the American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute (www.sids.org) have made it possible to lessen the impact of SIDS. Doctors and parents are now better educated to behaviors that will decrease the risk for SIDS. In fact, there has been a 50 percent decrease of infant deaths associated to SIDS from 1983 to present.
Here are some things to know and tips to follow to keep your babies safe from SIDS.
Put your baby to sleep on its back. This is the only safe sleeping position. Many parents allow their children to sleep on their stomachs because their children sleep more soundly in that manner. This can compromise the baby’s safety. Babies on their backs have more chances to wake themselves and others when they sleep if they experience interrupted breathing. Babies also will not inhale breath they have just exhaled preventing them from suffocating.
Use firm mattresses, no cover, no pillows, no bumper pads, and no toys in the crib. Clothe the baby with enough clothes to keep the baby comfortable according to the temperature of the room. There are all kinds of great sleepers of varying weights so that your baby won’t need additional covers. When a baby moves while he is sleeping, there can be no way in telling where his face will land. That means that if there are lots of things in his bed, it is possible that these things will come in contact to his face, cover it, and suffocate him.
Keep close watch on your baby. It is a good idea to keep the baby’s crib in the parent’s bedroom until the baby reaches 6 months old. This allows you to hear changes in breathing patterns that could alert you to distress.
As much as possible, never leave babies unattended, even when they are asleep. During the early months, it is advisable to have someone close to the baby to check on them once in a while. A baby monitor is a wonderful help. You never know when emergencies will happen, and you do not want your baby to face it alone.
Breast feed your baby. Breast fed babies have lower incidence of SIDS.
Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.
Be aware of infant warning signs. Talk with your doctor if your baby has periods of not breathing, goes limp, turns blue, stops breathing or gags after spitting up.
Fighting a disease that has no explainable cause is daunting. But we know that the above steps help decrease you and your baby’s risk against a horrible outcome.