What is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)?

What is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as “sudden unexpected death in infancy” (SUDI), is a term that strikes fear into the hearts of parents. While rare, the sudden and unexpected death of a baby remains a devastating event for families affected by it. In this blog, we’ll explore what SIDS is, its causes, and crucial steps parents can take to reduce the risk.

What is SIDS?

SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than one year that remains unexplained even after a thorough investigation, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history. When the death occurs in a child over 12 months, it is typically referred to as “sudden unexpected death in childhood” (SUDC).

Causes of SIDS

The exact causes of SIDS are currently unknown. However, it is believed that SIDS might result from a combination of factors that affect some babies at a vulnerable stage of their development. This combination of factors can cause an unexpected death during sleep.

At What Age are Babies Most at Risk?

Statistics show that about 89% of SIDS deaths occur when a baby is six months old or less, with the most vulnerable period being under 3 months. However, it is essential to follow safer sleep guidelines for the first year of life to minimize risks.

Reducing the Risk: Safer Sleep Advice

Following safer sleep advice can significantly decrease the likelihood of SIDS:

  • Sleep Position: Always place your baby on their back to sleep, both during the night and for day naps. This simple practice is known to reduce the SIDS risk by up to six times compared to other sleeping positions.
  • Room Sharing: Keep your baby in the same room where you sleep for the first six months. The ideal setup is a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room.
  • Smoke-Free Environment: Ensure that your baby is not exposed to smoke during pregnancy or after birth. Exposure to smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
  • Avoid Co-Sleeping Hazards: Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby, and avoid bed-sharing if there is any use of alcohol, drugs, or medications that cause drowsiness, or if any smoker is present in the bed. These conditions significantly increase the risk of SIDS.

Prevalence of SIDS

SIDS is comparatively rare and we have seen a significant decrease from 1994, when the American Academy of Pediatrics started it’s “Back to Sleep” campaign, which raised awareness about healthy sleeping environments.

Can SIDS Be Prevented?

While it’s impossible to prevent SIDS entirely, adhering to the safer sleep recommendations can greatly reduce the risk. These guidelines are particularly important for babies who were born prematurely or had a low birth weight, as they are at a higher risk.

Though the thought of SIDS is frightening, understanding the risk factors and implementing safer sleep practices can help protect your baby. Continuing research may eventually uncover more about the causes of SIDS, which could lead to better prevention strategies in the future. Until then, focusing on what we can control—creating a safe sleep environment—is the best step parents can take.

Speak to your provider at Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates for more information: https://www.lyndhurstgyn.com/locations/

Further Reading:

Boston Children’s Hospital: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions/sudden-infant-death-syndrome-sids