January 11th, 2016 | The Blog
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is a scary and tragic possibility for parents to worry about every single night and day when they have an infant. SIDS refers to when a baby goes to sleep and does not wake up. This is a totally unexpected death of an otherwise healthy infant.
Tragically, about 2,300 babies die every year in the United States. This number needs to be reduced or, preferably, totally eliminated. There is no medical explanation for Sudden Infant Death but recent research suggests that unsafe sleep practices contribute to the problem.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Explained
SIDS is defined as, “the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that cannot be explained following a thorough case investigation,” according to David Patterson, PhD, instructor of pathology at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Some facts about SIDS:
Smoking effects on SIDS:
SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion. It’s listed as the cause of death in cases where no other cause of death can be identified through a death scene investigation, an autopsy or a significant clinical history.
Theories About SIDS
The cause of SIDS is unknown but there are a few theories about why it happens. They include the following scenarios:
In simple terms, if a baby sleeps on their stomach, they rebreathe exhaled CO2. Usually, when CO2 levels rise, it activates nerve cells in the brainstem and this, in turn, stimulates the respiratory and arousal areas of the brain. Ideally, the baby awakens, turns his/her head and breathes faster to take in more oxygen. With a case of SIDS, a baby fails to rouse and impending doom and death occur.
Safe Sleep Practices
Here are some safe sleep practices that should be followed every time a baby is napping or in their crib for a night’s sleep. These practices are thought to help babies avoid succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Other safety guidelines include:
Now, let’s look at the sleeping environment and how to keep it safe. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics or AAP, the following guidelines should be followed:
One caveat to all of the back sleeping position is that babies should spend some “awake time” on their tummy. This is important to enhance motor development of the shoulders and also works to prevent flat spots from developing on the back of the baby’s head.
SIDS is a real and concerning health issue in the U.S. Teaching parents about the basic safety guidelines to prevent SIDS is critical to reducing the number of deaths.