In Canada, about three babies die of SIDS every week.
SIDS is usually rare among babies when they are not yet one month old or are more than a year old. It's however, most common among babies between two and four months old.
Here's what every mom needs to know about SIDS.
WHAT IS SIDS?
Sudden Infant Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death, is an unexplained death of a baby (under one-year-old) which occurs during their sleep. The term 'crib death' was coined because babies who experience this syndrome die in their cribs.
WHAT CAUSES SIDS?
The cause is unknown, but several factors (physical and environmental) are responsible for the syndrome. And these factors vary from baby to baby.
- Brain Defects: Babies who are born with issues in that part of their brains that is in charge of breathing and waking up from sleep are very susceptible to SIDS.
- Premature birth: Preterm or multiple birth babies usually have brains that are not fully mature to control automatic processes such as breathing and heart rate.
- Respiratory Infection: Babies with asthma or colds who have difficulty breathing can die of SIDS.
Sleep Environmental Factors
A baby's sleeping environment, particularly their cribs, can lead to SIDS. These factors increase a baby's risk of the syndrome. They are:
- Sleeping on the tummy or side is the number one contributing factor.
- Sleeping on a soft surface (lying face down in a fluffy comforter or a soft mattress) can block a baby's respiratory tract and lead to death.
- Sleeping in the same bed with parents, siblings and pets or toys.
- High temperatures in a baby's nursery or crib can cause SIDS.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?
According to researchers, a baby's risk of SIDS increases with these factors:
- Sex: Males are more prone to SIDS than females.
- Age: Babies between the ages of two and four months are more at risk.
- Race: Non-Caucasian babies are at a greater risk than Caucasian babies.
- Family history: Babies born into families where siblings or cousins have died of SIDS have an almost 100% chance of dying too.
- Premature birth: Preterm babies with low birth weights are more susceptible to the syndrome.
- Passive smoking: If you or your spouse are smokers, you could put your baby at a greater risk of SIDS.
Even so, a mother can increase her baby's risk of SIDS during pregnancy. She can if she:
- Is below 20 years
- Drinks or is on drugs
- Doesn't go for prenatal care
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT SIDS?
SIDS can be difficult to prevent BUT with these safety tips you can reduce your baby's chances of dying:
- Place your baby on his or her back to sleep when they are below one year or are one-year-old. Make sure other caretakers, relatives, baby sitters do the same when they tuck in your baby.
- Check to see if your baby's crib is free of toys, pillows, etc. since these can suffocate your baby. Also, use a firm mattress and not a fluffy one.
- If you want to keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack or other clothing that doesn't need extra covering. AND DON'T COVER YOUR BABY'S HEAD.
- Most cases of SIDS occur when parents and babies sleep in separate rooms. To prevent SIDS, you need to keep a watchful eye on your baby. Sleep with them in the same room but not in the same bed. Your baby should sleep in a crib.
- Breastfeed your baby for not less than six months to prevent SIDS. Breast milk provides your baby with all the antibodies to fight off infections like RSV which can lead to SIDS.
- Immunizing your baby can protect them from life-threatening diseases which puts them at risk of SIDS. So make sure your baby has all their scheduled immunizations.
- Let your baby suck on a strapless or string-free pacifier at naptime or bedtime. However, do not give your baby a pacifier until they are three to four weeks old if you are breastfeeding them. And if a pacifier falls out of your baby's mouth, do not stick it back in. AND DON'T FORCE YOUR BABY IF HE OR SHE DOESN'T LIKE PACIFIERS.
Even if you are using baby monitors and similar gadgets, keep an eye on your baby. You shouldn't rest on your oars; these gadgets cannot 100% guarantee your baby's safety; there is still some risk. You should check in on your baby often or get a responsible and trusted adult (relative, nanny or friend) to do so if you are busy.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional medical advice nor a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician concerning anything you have read here.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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