Jayne has taught health/nutrition and education at the college level and has a master's degree in education.
SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome is the sudden unexplained death of an infant under 1 year of age. The baby is found dead after having been put to sleep and shows no sign of struggle. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants between 1 month and 1 year of age, with the most cases occurring between 2-4 months of age. This phenomenon, also known as 'crib death', was first described in the late 1960s.
All infants are at risk, but there are factors that may increase that risk. These include:
- Gender - boys are more at risk than girls
- Age - babies are most at risk during the first four months of life
- Ethnicity - African Americans, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives are more at risk
- Having siblings or cousins who have died of SIDS
- Breathing secondhand smoke
- Being born premature
- Having a low birth weight
- Having a respiratory infection
There are also maternal factors that can increase the risk of SIDS. These include if the mother:
- is younger than 20
- uses drugs or alcohol
- has little or no prenatal care
SIDS is a sudden and silent medical disorder. The cause is still unknown, but there appears to be an association between SIDS and abnormalities in the part of the baby's brain controlling breathing and arousal from sleep. Since doctors started recommending babies sleep on their backs or sides, the incidence of SIDS has dropped dramatically. Unfortunately, SIDS is still a major cause of death and is not entirely preventable.
What SIDS is Not
It's important to understand what SIDS is not: SIDS is not contagious, nor is it the result of child abuse or neglect. It's not caused by suffocation, vomiting or choking, nor is it caused by vaccines or shots. SIDS is not caused by the cribs themselves.
Although no one knows what causes SIDS, there are some precautions that parents and caregivers can take that reduce the risk. These include:
- Putting the infant to sleep on his/her back
- Using a firm mattress separate from caregivers (co-sleeping increases risk)
- Not having loose bedding
- Providing a cool sleeping environment
- Giving the baby a pacifier
- Not smoking around the infant
- Breastfeeding the baby for at least the first six months of life
- SIDS is the sudden death of an infant between 1 month and 1 year of age
- Risks include a combination of brain abnormalities, gender, age, and environmental and maternal factors
- The cause is still unknown
- Although not completely preventable, there are prevention strategies to help reduce risk
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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