Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden, unexplained death of an infant, and is the one of the main causes of death among infants between a month and a year. SIDS is said to occur only when no possible explanation can be found even after:
- Examination of the place where the death occurred
- Review of medical history of infant and family
The baby typically does not seem to show any sign of suffering and death occurs rapidly. In addition, SIDS is commonly known as crib death because of a strong link with sleep. It is estimated that 2,500 babies in the United States die of unknown causes every year.
While no single cause can be pinpointed, researchers believe that SIDS may be the result of a combination of several factors.
- Consumption of prohibited substances during pregnancy (tobacco, alcohol, drugs, etc.)
- Early motherhood
- Poor medical care during pregnancy
- Short interval between two pregnancies
- Exposure to smoke after birth
- Sleeping on the stomach or sleeping on too soft a surface
The last point should be emphasized, as babies tend to pause in their breathing, or re-breathe exhaled air, reducing the amount of oxygen in their blood while increasing carbon dioxide. Babies need clear space around their heads to breathe freely.
- Ensure that your child always sleeps on the back. Sleeping on the side is also not a good alternative. For babies, sleeping on the back reduces the chance of accidental death greatly.
- Your infant’s sleep area should be firm, without any pillows, toys, or covering. A firm mattress is preferable to a soft one. Remove stuffed animals during nap or sleep time
- Keep a comfortable room temperature. Excess body heat is seen to increase the chances of SIDS.
- For unknown reasons, breast-feeding and pacifiers are known to decrease the risk of SIDS.
- Keep the air around the baby free of smoke.