Commonly referred to as cot or crib death, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected death of an infant mostly while asleep. An infant is found dead after having been laid to bed in a healthy state without any signs or symptoms of any disease. The occurrence of SIDS remains unexplained even with such techniques as autopsy, investigations and family medical history. SIDS cases are common with young first time mothers, something thought to do with lack of adequate knowledge in baby care. This is attested to by the scientific fact that SIDS rates decrease with increase in maternal age.
Factors Responsible for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
The fact the occurrence of SIDS cannot be explained through autopsy and other investigations, the cause(s) remain unclear. However, various factors are thought to be risk factors
- Women who give birth at a very young age do not have adequate knowledge in taking care of their infants, something that is believed to be a factor in the occurrence of SIDS.
- Lack of proper pre-natal care is also believed to put an infant at risk.
- Exposing an infant to cigarette smoke is also believed to be a factor. This is especially with smoking mothers.
- An infants sleeping position is crucial. Putting an infant to sleep on the stomach is strongly believed to be a major factor in the occurrence of SIDS.
- Extreme temperatures (either low or high) in a room can also lead to SIDS. Anemia is also believed to be a risk factor in the occurrence of SIDS.
- It is important to point out in the case of anemia, the same cannot be ascertained through autopsy because total hemoglobin can only be measured in a living infant.
Tips to Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
The fact that the occurrence of SIDS cannot be explained and diagnosis is out of question, prevention is the only remedy. Young expecting mother are particularly encouraged to know how to prevent SIDS long before they deliver.
- Ensuring that an infant’s room temperature is optimum goes along way in minimizing chances of SIDS. The room should be well ventilated to allow for fresh air circulation. Although a fan may be used in a room, such needs to be done with care to prevent fan death. A fan should never be placed to fan air directly to a baby’s face. It should be placed far from an infant’s cot.
- An infant’s sleeping position is critical in the prevention of SIDS. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, an infant should always be put to sleep with the back on bed. Varied campaigns dubbed “Back to Bed” that have been conducted in different countries have led to drastic reduction in SIDS cases, a clear indication that putting an infant to sleep on the stomach increases the risk of SIDS occurrence.
- Although an infant needs to be made very comfortable while asleep, the use of pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals and sleep positioners in an infant’s cot is not recommended.
Although SIDS cases have reduced in some countries across the world, it is a common problem in most countries. The fact that SIDS awareness is not promoted and taken seriously in some cases has meant that mothers have to continue losing their new born babies simply because of lack of information.