SIDS – Understanding, Clarifying and Preventing Sleep-Related Causes of Death
For most people, SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome brings to mind many things – most being questions. Why does it happen? How can it be prevented? For those who have lost a child to SIDS, it brings to mind other more somber thoughts.
October is SIDS Awareness month and the team at Rainbow Pediatrics wants to help shed some light on this very uncertain topic.
What is SIDS?
SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than one year of age. It is the leading cause of death among babies between the ages of one month and one year. It is a silent and sudden disorder that occurs to a seemingly normal and healthy infant. It is heartbreaking and thankfully instances of SIDS are significantly less than they were twenty years ago.
Can SIDS be prevented?
SIDS cannot be prevented, however suffocation and strangulation can. Heightened awareness surrounding the dangers of sleeping with infants and placing children on their stomachs to sleep has helped decrease instances of infant death.
Understanding the difference between SIDS, which is not preventable, and other sleep-related causes of infant death, which are preventable is important for any parent or caretaker. SIDS is not contagious nor is it caused by vaccines, cribs, vomiting or choking. It is not caused by suffocation. There are ways, however, to reduce the risk of infant death and create a safe sleep environment.
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep.
- Choose a firm sleep surface for your baby that is covered with a fitted sheet. Sleeping on a soft surface such as a couch or adult bed places the baby at an increased risk of suffocation.
- Avoid placing soft toys, crib bumpers and bedding in the baby’s sleep area to prevent accidental suffocation. To keep baby warm, consider an infant blanket sleeper.
- Avoid sleeping with your baby. Instead, choose room-sharing, and use a safety-approved crib, bassinette, or portable play yard to keep your baby close.
- Do not give your baby a pacifier that is attached to a string while sleeping to avoid strangulation.
Finally, it is important to receive proper health care during pregnancy. Smoking, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs during pregnancy should be avoided. Smoking around your baby should also be avoided as babies of mothers who do not smoke have the lowest risk of SIDS and babies who share a bed with a mother who smokes have the highest risk of SIDS.
While the incidence of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death are decreasing, fatal mistakes can happen. If you are a new parent, caretaker or know someone who is or soon will be, please share this valuable information with them. It could save their precious baby’s life. If you have questions for us, please do not hesitate to call (910) 486-5437 anytime or visit us online.