SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Causes and Information

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS Causes and Information

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome otherwise known as SIDS is the sudden death of an infant which cannot be explained after all known causes have been painstakingly ruled out. An autopsy, family history, and death scene investigation are aspects that are all considered. Crib death, or SIDS, is the number-one killer of children between the ages of 1 week and 1 year. In this generation, 150,000 children, or about 7000 babies a year are affected. Infants 2 to 4 months are most at risk for SIDS, and 90% of the victims are under 6 months of age. All races, ethnic, and socioeconomic segments of society are included.

The children who become the victims of SIDS are surprisingly healthy and generally show no signs of illness. It is possible that in some babies symptoms may be apparent a day or so before death, and constant communication with a physician about the baby’s behavior is advisable. There may be coughing, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and poor appetite. There may be restlessness or irritability and the child may appear pale and listless. Progressively, the child will experience a blush skin color, with cold hands and feet, and have difficulty in breathing. Internally, the lungs and respiratory tract become swollen and inflamed. Water and blood collect in the lungs and the tubes connecting the lungs to the bloodstream become spastic.

The causes of this condition are possibly stress in the baby resulting from infection or other factors. There may be a birth defect or a failure to develop. Scientist are studying the brain, breathing and sleep patterns, nervous system, heart, autopsy findings, environmental influences, and body chemical balances. A combination of causes is suspected in SIDS.

Through her own studies, Dr. Joan L. Caddell, a pediatric cardiologist, believes the cause of SIDS may be magnesium deficiency. A borderline yet critical deficiency of the mineral in the mother during pregnancy, and secondarily in the infant’s diet, may precipitate SIDS.

Since the most rapid growth period for newborns is during the second and fourth months, this is the time of greatest risk. Rapid growth depletes magnesium. A magnesium deficiency also is a factor in the release of histamine, which is a substance that increases the permeability of the capillaries, allowing nutrients and oxygen to leak out and collect in sites such as the lungs.

Some Doctors suggest that adequate daily intake of Vitamin C may prevent SIDS attributed to suffocation, of which the symptoms may be as slight as congested nasal passages. A doctor named Frederick Kennel has treated infants suffering from crib syndrome, a less acute condition, with calcium gluconate and massive injections of Vitamin C. The doctor attributes this syndrome to a possible brain trauma at birth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold. The doctor also states that adequate amounts of Vitamin C taken by the mother during pregnancy might prevent this condition. Researchers and Doctors have also linked a deficiency of Vitamins B and E to SIDS.

Some measures have been linked with SIDS from happening. Place the baby on its back to sleep, do not smoke around the baby, avoid overheating, and use firm bedding instead of foam pads, cushions, bean bags, sheepskins, sofa cushions, or synthetic-filled adult pillows. Breast feeding when possible is desirable. Babies who are premature, have low birth weights, or are twins or triplets are also at risk. Other factors that seem to make a difference are the age of the mother (the younger, the greater the risk), the season (cold-weather months have higher rates), the sex of the baby (boys are at higher risk), and the baby’s age.

At this date, there is no known cause of this baffling condition known as SIDS and no one should feel guilty for not doing enough either before birth or after. A prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement should always be given. The best that parents can do is the best that they know how, and the rest should be left to science to discover just what it is that is taken the lives of so many precious little babies.

For those who may want more information on SIDS or to discuss their concerns with a SIDS counselor, or to be connected to the local SIDS affiliate for support services in their area, there is a nationwide, 24-hour Toll-Free number 1-800-221-SIDS.

SIDS Video


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