Written by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri
A baby lights up the world for their parents. It ensures that all the smiles around are meant for him/her but when an unfortunate event occurs related to the baby, the world turns upside down for everyone. SIDS in babies is one such condition.
So, what is SIDS? SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby younger than one year of age. When the cause of death is not found even after a complete investigation, it is declared SIDS. The first 2 months after a baby is born and till the 4th month, the chances of SIDS are at their peak. This is majorly because the cardiovascular muscles are yet to be developed. When it does, the chances start to reduce, and such cases of SIDS are never found. With parents’ total attention and dedicated care, SIDS can be kept at bay.
In This Article
When it comes to the causes of SIDS, pointing out the only cause can be difficult as it is a result of multiple plausible factors. At a certain stage in a baby’s life, environmental stress leads to such instances of SIDS.
The worst part of SIDS is that there are no specific signs or symptoms that will warn the parents. In most SIDS cases, the infant is found dead the way it was last kept by their parents in the cradle or bed. There are no signs of struggle before SIDS which further makes the process complicated to be diagnosed or forecasted.
After a complete autopsy and investigation of the death, if the doctors and police cannot come up with a reason why the baby died, then it is declared a SIDS case. This is the main reason why signs and symptoms in such cases are really hard to spot. All you need to ensure is that proper care of the baby must be taken throughout this time to avoid any such instance.
SIDS can occur to any infant regardless of risk factors, here are some of the factors which put a baby at high risk.
According to research, there are numerous ways in which SIDS risk can be reduced significantly. Here they are.
Make sure you rest the baby on his/her back for daytime naps or a night of sleep.
The back sleep position is considered to be the safest for babies until they are 1 year old. However, babies who are sleeping on their back should be made to sleep on their stomachs as it increases the chances of SIDS.
In the case of a premature baby, make sure that they are made to sleep on their back as it reduces the chances of SIDS considerably.
A firm and flat sleep surface is highly recommended for babies. Make sure there are no other soft elements in the sleeping area and it should only have a fitted bed sheet.
Avoid making the baby sleep on super soft surfaces such as a waterbed, couch, pillow or quilt. An infant carrier or infant swing should not be used as a regular sleep surface for the baby.
These will substantially reduce the risk of the baby getting succumbed to SIDS or any other injury or strangulation during the sleep.
Breastfeed your baby to reduce the risk of SIDS. It is a fact that breastfeeding has a bag full of benefits for the mother and also the baby.
For the first 6 months or 1 year, make sure that you keep the baby near to your bed so that you can follow him or her at night. In case of any problem faced by the baby, you can check them out at night.
Tummy time is important for the baby. Make sure you give him/her sufficient tummy time when someone is around. More tummy time will help the baby strengthen the neck, shoulder and arm muscles in the long run. It will also prevent any flat spot on the back of your baby’s head.
Strictly follow the vaccination and health check-up routine suggested by your baby’s physician. It will help you to spot any clinical issue with the child immediately.
To reduce the chances of SIDS, the mother should follow these-
According to epidemiological data, SIDS is related to sleeping state. However, there can be some cases which are extremely rare when SIDS happens when the baby is awake.
Sucking on a pacifier before bedtime surely reduces the chances of SIDS. The forward positioning of the tongue ensures that the risk of oropharyngeal obstruction is substantially reduced. Thus, the chances of SIDS are lower.
During the night, sleep is deeply concentrated which is why the chance of SIDS are higher. As per data, 83% of SIDS cases are reported around midnight when the baby is in deep sleep.
SIDS should not be confused with suffocation and also it is not the only cause of SIDS. SIDS is an accidental blockage of oxygen, but it should not be mixed up with suffocation only.
Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.
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