The insufficient answers and explanation is one of the reasons why sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS is so frightening. This condition is the leading cause of death among babies who are one month to one year of age. It claims the lives of more than 2,500 infants every year in the country. Despite the extensive research done to understand this condition, it still remains very unpredictable.
Thankfully, the risk of SIDS can be minimized with proper awareness. As a parent, you must learn about the common risk factors of this condition. You also need to know what SIDS is all about.
Understanding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Sudden infant death syndrome is a very tragic event for any parent or guardian. This condition is the unexpected, sudden death of a baby under one year of age who was considered to be healthy prior to death. If the cause of death is unexplained even after a formal investigation regarding the circumstances of the death, including complete autopsy and evaluation of the clinical history, the infant’s death will be attributed to SIDS.
The risk for this condition peaks when the child is between two and three months of age, and it usually occurs in male infants than females. Other facts pertaining to this condition are as follows:
- Apnea of infancy is a clinical condition which is considered different from SIDS. Infants who suffer from apnea may be treated with electronic monitors prescribed by a medical professional that can track the infant’s heart rate and respiratory activity. Unfortunately, these monitors cannot prevent SIDS.
- Apparent life-threatening events or ALTEs is a condition wherein the infant experiences sudden changes in color, breathing, and muscle tone. Studies have also concluded that there is no definite evidence that links this condition to SIDS.
- SIDS is not the result of a contagious health condition nor is it hereditary
- No one is to be blamed for SIDS
What Are Common Risk Factors Of SIDS
The reasons behind sudden infant death are still unknown. Although the incidence of SIDS in the country has decreased in recent years, it still remains to be one of the leading causes of infant deaths. Despite the unknown causes, there are generally accepted factors that might contribute to this incident. A combination of factors from the child’s physical condition and sleep environment can put a baby at a higher risk for SIDS. These factors may vary from one infant to another.
Irregularities of the Brain: There are some toddlers who are born with problems that put them at risk for SIDS. In some of these newborns, the portion of their brain that controls the breathing and arousal from sleep fail to work properly.
Infection in the Respiratory System: There have been cases of SIDS wherein the infant recently experienced a cold prior to death. The respiratory infection may have contributed to breathing problems during sleep.
Low Birth Weight: Newborns who were born prematurely or those who were part of a multiple birth are at a higher risk of this condition since the child’s brain may not have matured completely. With that said, the infant has less reliable control over his breathing process and heart rate.
Aside from these physical factors, the sleep environment also contributes to the risk of SIDS. The mattress used in the baby’s crib as well as his sleeping position can contribute to problems and increase risks.
Sleeping on the stomach or side: The child who sleeps on his stomach or side may have difficulty breathing than those who sleep on their back.
Using a soft mattress: A fluffy mattress or a waterbed can block the toddler’s airway. It is also advisable to avoid draping a blanket over the child’s head.
Sleeping with parents: The risks of SIDS are reduced when parents sleep with their infants since they can monitor him throughout the night. Unfortunately, if the baby sleeps in the same bed, it may increase the risk instead, since there will be softer surfaces on the mattress that might impair his breathing.
These are six risk factors of sudden infant death syndrome. It is best to take necessary precautions to keep your infant safe and healthy. One of the best ways to protect your baby is to get the right mattress for his crib- one which will not constrict his airway.
Kris Lim is a writer of health and wellness website where she offers basic information concerning SIDS. She also occasionally writes for Parklane Mattresses in Vancouver.