Is it possible to protect yourself from sudden infant death syndrome?

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of an infant between the ages of two weeks and one year, usually during sleep. Another name for the phenomenon is “death in the cradle”. This diagnosis is made when, after an autopsy, an examination of the place of what happened and a study of the medical history, it is still not clear why the baby died.

SIDS is the main cause of death in children in the first year of life, in 90% of cases their age is from 1 to 4 months. But the good news is that it’s a rare condition, affecting 25 out of 100,000 newborns .

Why Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Occurs

The exact reason is unknown. Scientists suggest that the problem is the immaturity of the structures of the medulla oblongata, which are responsible for awakening, heart conduction and breathing, including with an increase in carbon dioxide concentration.

It is not necessary that there is a permanent defect in the structure of the brain , perhaps there are just sometimes failures in its work.

What increases the risk of SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can affect anyone. But there are factors that increase the likelihood of its development. Sometimes there may be several of them at once, but the baby will not suffer, and sometimes one will be enough for a fatal outcome. But it cannot be considered the direct cause of death.

From the side of the child

For an infant, risk factors include :

  • sex – more often the syndrome occurs in boys;
  • age from 2 to 4 months;
  • Negroid or Mongoloid race;
  • anamnesis, that is, the presence of similar cases in the history of the family;
  • low birth weight, for example due to premature or multiple births ;
  • second hand smoke.

From the mother’s side

A child is more likely to die from ADHD if the mother:

  • under 20 years old;
  • not breastfeeding;
  • smoked during pregnancy;
  • uses alcohol and drugs;
  • did not receive prenatal care.

From the side of the environment

The conditions in the bedroom are also important. Breathing problems in a child can provoke:

  • sleep on the side and especially on the stomach;
  • soft mattress, bumpers, blanket and toys in the crib;
  • co-sleeping, especially between adults, or with other children, or with an adult who smokes, drinks, or takes drugs that cause drowsiness;
  • the temperature in the bedroom is above 20°C.

Is it possible to predict in advance that SIDS will develop

So far, this cannot be predicted or prevented. But scientists are trying to figure out how to pre-calculate babies who are prone to sudden infant death syndrome. In June 2022, a study was published of a biologically active substance in the blood of newborns, which could become a marker for this syndrome.

Perhaps in a few years there will be a diagnostic screening that will be able to identify children at an increased risk of SIDS in the maternity hospital. So doctors can monitor their condition more closely.

How to protect your child from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

There is no guaranteed way, but there are recommendations that will help reduce the risk.

Create a safe sleeping environment

Baby sleeps best

  • in a ventilated room with a temperature of 16 to 20 ° C, so as not to overheat;
  • in the same room with his parents , to be constantly monitored until he is at least 6 months old;
  • in a separate bed, where there is only a stretched sheet and there are no toys, bumpers and other things that can block the airways;
  • on a hard, even mattress in which a person cannot “drown”;
  • on the back – this position is less likely to cause breathing problems;
  • not in a blanket, but in a sleeping bag that cannot get tangled around the head.

Take precautions

Here are a few more tips to follow :

  • visit a gynecologist from the very beginning of pregnancy, eat right, give up smoking, alcohol and drugs – these measures will help reduce the risk of having a child with a low body weight;
  • lay the baby on the stomach during wakefulness to strengthen the muscles;
  • take your child for pediatric checkups and routine vaccinations – some studies have shown that full vaccination in children reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome;
  • do not allow anyone to smoke near the child;
  • breastfeed if possible;
  • offer your baby a pacifier during sleep, especially if feeding is already established – this reduces the risk of stopping breathing.

Is there any other way to prevent sudden infant death syndrome?

More likely no than yes. There are monitors on the market that monitor breathing and heart rate during sleep, but studies have not shown that these devices somehow reduce the incidence of infant death syndrome.

In addition, young parents who constantly think about stopping their breathing in an infant become more anxious. Devices that work by mistake can exacerbate anxiety.

Also, wedges in the crib, special positioning pillows and other similar means do not help . Sometimes such “protection” itself leads to death, because the baby can bury his face in it and suffocate.

Before buying any preventive measure, you should definitely consult a pediatrician.

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