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Important Facts About Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

sudden infant death syndrome (sids)Sudden Infant Death Syndrome of SIDS – sometimes called cot death – is when a baby, usually under the age of 6 months stops breathing for no apparent reason. The baby is not known to be ill and the tragedy is huge.

Research can still not explain why a baby stops breathing and dies like this, but there are several observations on variations between countries, gender, seasons, age and more that may help you protect your child.

If your baby is at risk for SIDS using these metrics, there are several precautionary steps to take. Read the article below and watch the video at the bottom of the article to learn about the risk factors, and what protective measures you can take. Below the videos, you’ll find the link to more information on how to create a safe sleeping environment for your baby.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Facts

  • The incidence of SIDS varies between countries and by ethnic groups. A high incidence has been noted in for example New Zealand, while Asia, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland have particularly few cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Within the US, African American babies are twice as likely to die from SIDS as white babies and American Indian babies are nearly three times more likely to die of SIDS than white babies.
  • Since the general advice came to let babies sleep on their backs, the differences between countries have fallen.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is very uncommon for babies younger than one month. It is most common when babies are 3-4 four months old and then the risk decreases. Only 20% of all cases occur when the baby is older than 6 months.
  • 60% of all affected babies are boys.
  • Somewhat more cases occur during winter. The general belief is that the number of infections is higher during the colder months. In countries without these seasonal variations, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome appear to be higher during the semesters, supporting the theory that infections may be a cause of SIDS.
  • SIDS is more common during weekends, but it is not clear why. Altered ways of living, such as that the parents consume more alcohol is a possible explanation.
  • Most babies die at night and are found in the morning.
  • The more children in a family, the higher is the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The reason for this is unknown, but may have to do with either some factors during the pregnancy or the fact that the number of infections reaching the newborn baby increases with the number of children in the family.
  • Premature babies and babies with a low birth weight (less than 2500 gr, (5 pounds 8 ounces)) are at higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome .
  • Babies put to sleep on soft matresses or that are covered by fluffy blankets are at higher risk.
  • Since the recommendation of back sleeping as the only sleep position was implemented, the percentage of infants placed on their backs to sleep has increased dramatically, and the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have declined by more than 50% in some countries.

It feels good to end this page on a positive note. I think it’s wonderful that something as simple as having your baby sleep on his back can make such a big difference for the risk of SIDS. Also, many doctors believe that the relatively new recommendation of
using a pacifier is likely to lower the risk quite a lot further.

Video On Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Remember this to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome :

  • Let your baby sleep on his back
  • Let him sleep on a firm mattress
  • Be careful with blankets and stuffed animals
  • Never smoke around your baby
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy
  • Introduce a pacifier
  • Make sure your baby is not too warm while asleep
  • Breastfeed if possible

If you are truly worried about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, there are very advanced baby monitors available. One of the best is Dorme’ baby monitor, with surveillance of a baby’s breathing and heart rate. (Opens in new window). There are other monitors too, like this cheaper one: the Snuza Hero Baby Movement Monitor, which monitors movements of the abdomen and thereby changes in breathing rhythm.

For more help on how to protect your baby from SIDS, read this article on how to provide a safe sleeping environment for your baby.

And if you are worried that your baby will, for example, get a flat head from all the back-sleeping – read this article about flat heads, choking and other back-sleeping worries.

References

Here are some research articles, providing more information on SIDS: