Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, more commonly referred to as SIDS, is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby under one year of age. This usually occurs during sleep, and there is no warning, nor is there a definitive cause. This loss is devastating to the parents and is hard to cope with. Since there is no medical explanation, parents tend to blame themselves, which makes it even harder to deal with the loss. Most cases occur in babies between two and four months of age. It is least likely to occur before one month and after 6 months of age.
A couple studies have shown possible causes of SIDS. The first being that infants with slowly maturing brain stems and/or myelin (which helps control breathing and arousal) are at an increased risk. Another study has shown that almost 1 in 10 babies that have died of SIDS had a genetic defect in one of the genes responsible for long QT syndrome. (Long QT syndrome is a heart rhythm disorder that can causes sudden, accelerated heart rates.)
What are factors that could increase the risk of SIDS?
Note: Eliminating these factors will not eliminate the possibility of SIDS
* Between the ages of 1 and 6 months.
* Premature or low-birth weight.
* Black, American Indian, or Native Alaskan
* Sleeps on his/her stomach (even higher risk if infant had been used to sleeping on back, then suddenly switched to stomach)
* Soft bedding
* Side sleeping – the baby might roll over onto his/her stomach
* Born to mother who smoked or used drugs during of after pregnancy.
* It’s during fall or winter months
* Recently suffered from an upper respiratory infection
* Had a sibling who died of SIDS
These factors also increase the risk
* The mother had inadequate prenatal care
* The mother had placenta abnormalities during pregnancy
* There was a low weight gain during mother’s pregnancy
* The mother suffered from anemia during pregnancy
* The mother had history of STD’s or UTI’s
If you or someone who know has been affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, here is a few online support groups.