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What Is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)?

SIDS, or crib death, is the sudden death of seemingly healthy babies during sleep. Most deaths occur in babies 2 to 4 months old, rarely before 1 month or after 6 months. SIDS affects more boys than girls, and more African-Americans and Native Americans than whites. It occurs more often in winter and sometimes runs in families. It can’t be predicted or completely prevented.

What Causes SIDS?

The cause isn’t known. Higher risks are related to sleeping on the stomach, especially for babies who are overdressed or covered with too many blankets or whose rooms are too warm. Premature, low-birth-weight, and multiple birth babies (being twins or triplets) have greater risk. It’s also related to poor prenatal care, poverty, teen mothers, cigarette smoking, and drinking and drug use during pregnancy.

More is known about things that don’t cause it: suffocation, vomiting, choking, birth defects, infections, immunizations, and kind of parenting.

What Are the Symptoms of SIDS?

SIDS has no symptoms or warning signs. Babies don’t seem to suffer or struggle. They don’t cry. Minor breathing or stomach problems might occur in the weeks before SIDS occurs.

How Is SIDS Diagnosed?

No tests can say for certain that SIDS caused death. When no other reason is found after reviewing medical histories, studying where the baby was found, and doing an autopsy, SIDS may be named as the cause.

How Is SIDS Risk Reduced?

No home care is possible, but infant CPR can be tried. The emergency 911 number should be called.

Eliminating or preventing risk factors can lower SIDS risk. Everyone who cares for babies, including babysitters, day-care providers, and grandparents, should learn about SIDS. Preventing SIDS involves always placing babies on their back to sleep, not their stomachs or sides. Avoid too many fluffy, loose blankets and hot rooms. Having a fan in the room may reduce risk. Use firm mattresses. For the first 6 months, babies should sleep in cribs in parents’ rooms, but not in parents’ beds. A smoke-free environment is critical during pregnancy and for the first year of a baby’s life. Breastfeeding may help. Pacifiers may reduce risk, offered after a baby is 1 month old.

Parents, who may suffer guilt feelings, need emotional support for their devastating loss. Allowing time to grieve and heal is critical.

DOs and DON’Ts in Preventing SIDS:

  • DO put babies to sleep on their back.
  • DO put babies to sleep in a crib, never in bed with other children or adults. Let babies sleep in the same room as parents.
  • DO offer babies pacifiers at nap time and bedtime, but on’t force babies to use them.
  • DO keep babies in smoke-free environments.
  • DO breastfeed, if possible.
  • DO visit the health care provider for prenatal care and ake your baby for regular well-baby checkups.
  • DO look for help from a SIDS support group.
  • DON’T put babies to sleep on their stomachs or sides.
  • DON’T put babies to sleep on surfaces other than cribs, such as sofas.
  • DON’T use soft bedding, pillows, comforters, or quilts.
  • DON’T make the baby’s room too hot.

Contact the following source:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
    Tel: (847) 434-4000
  • American Psychiatric Association
    Tel: (888) 357-7924
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    Tel: (800) 274-2237

Copyright © 2016 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc.

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