No one grieves more than a parent when they lose a child, at any age. When the death is unexpected, such as when an infant dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the sadness and heartbreak can be overwhelming.
New Canaan Pediatrics is here to explain the risk factors of SIDS and how to keep your infant as safe as possible.
What is SIDS?
SIDS is an unexplained infant death of an otherwise healthy baby. Experts suspect that it is a result of defects in the part of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.
When Is Baby most at risk?
Often, SIDS occurs when the baby is sleeping in their crib, so you may hear it referred to as a “crib death.” This can happen any time before the baby’s first birthday, but occurs most often between the ages of 2 and 4 months.
Although the cause of SIDS is still unknown, studies have been able to identify common identifiers that categorize babies who are most at risk. According to research, babies who are greater risk of developing SIDS are:
- Non-white babies
- Infants born prematurely
- Babies who have siblings or cousins who also have died from SIDS
- Babies who live in a home where smoking is present
The mother’s health status during pregnancy also plays a factor in analyzing the risk of SIDS. If during pregnancy, the mother is under the age of 20, smokes, drinks alcohol or uses other drugs, or has inadequate prenatal care, the risk of the infant dying from SIDS increases.
How can I prevent SIDS?
Because SIDS happens when the baby is sleeping, it is most important to provide Baby with the safest sleep accommodations possible. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, follow these guidelines each and every time anyone puts Baby to sleep – either for the night or just for a short nap:
- Place babies on their backs instead of on their stomachs
- Baby should sleep in a close-fitting sleeper, on a firm mattress with no blankets, crib bumpers, stuffed animals, positioners or pillows
- NEVER let Baby sleep in the same bed as you or anyone else
- Share your room with your baby in a separate, child-safe crib for at least the first six months, ideally for 1 year
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bed time
- Keep babies warm at night, but make sure they do not overheat
- Breastfeed babies, if possible, to reduce risk
Yes! “Back to Sleep” Works
Parents today may hear “You always slept on your tummy and nothing happened to you” when they instruct grandparents to lay babies on their backs to go to sleep. That likely means you were born before 1992.
The “Back to Sleep” campaign, encouraging parents and caregivers to place babies on their backs every time they were put in the crib to sleep, began that year as a push to reduce the risk of SIDS in infants. At the time, more than 5,000 babies died every year as a result of SIDS. Today, that number has dropped to approximately 2,300 a year. “Back to Sleep” has saved thousands of infant lives.
Although it’s impossible to anticipate all the dangers in the world for your children, it is important to recognize and act on reducing risk wherever you can. By following safe sleep practices and scheduling routine well-child visits for your child, you will reduce the risk of SIDS.
Have questions about how to implementing “Back to Sleep” or concerned about any health issue in your child? Call New Canaan Pediatrics at 203-972-4250 or click here to make an appointment.