What Does A New Parent Need To Know About SIDS?

SIDS is an elusive syndrome that affects babies between the ages of birth to 12 months. It stands for sudden infant death syndrome.

SIDS has been researched incessantly with results that do not draw complete conclusions as so why it occurs. An infant death will not be classified as SIDS until after an autopsy has been performed and all other possibilities have been ruled out.

So what is known about SIDS? Is it preventable? Are there known risk factors? What can you do to protect your baby?

What is Thought to Cause SIDS and is it Preventable?

To be clear, SIDS is not suffocation. Things that are thought to add risk to SIDS can also cause suffocation, which causes much public confusion, but they are not the same thing. SIDS results when a baby's body does not respond, or become aroused from sleep, when unable to breathe. This may result from an abnormality in the brain. 

Unfortunately, SIDS cannot be predicted and therefore cannot be prevented. It happens, most often, while a baby is asleep.

Are There Known Risk Factors?

There are a few things that are known risk factors for SIDS. Studies that have been performed have found common things among the babies that have died. These things include:

  • the baby was put to sleep on his or her side or stomach
  • the baby became overheated and/or was swaddled too tightly
  • there were other objects in the baby's crib
  • exposure to secondhand smoke 
  • the baby was premature or had a low birth weight
  • the mother was under 20, did not have much prenatal care and/or smoked during pregnancy

Studies have also found that boys are more likely to die of SIDS than girls. Also, it is believed that black, American Indian and Eskimo babies have a higher risk because of the number of SIDS cases among these races. 

What Can I Do To Protect My Baby?

Although you can't prevent SIDS, there are things you can do to improve the chances that your baby will not suffer from SIDS. 

  • Be sure your baby's crib is kept clear of all other items besides a lightweight blanket. The mattress should be firm and a thin sheet should be used. Do not allow extra blankets or stuffed animals in the crib.
  • Put your baby to sleep on his or her back only. By the time your baby is old enough to roll around and change his or her sleep position by his or herself, he or she is probably no longer at risk for SIDS.
  • Do not smoke around your baby or allow your baby to be around any second-hand smoke
  • Allow your baby to suck a pacifier at nap time and bed time
  • It is also thought that breastfeeding your baby for at least 6 months can reduce the risk of SIDS

Do all that you can to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby. If you have questions about SIDS, consult your pediatrician,one like Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP. He or she will let you know all the basic facts that are currently known about SIDS.