- Family and Parenting
What is SIDS
What is SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome?
What is SIDS is often one of the first questions a new expectant mom may have. SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is the sudden and unexplained death of an otherwise healthy baby. Typically a baby that passes away as a result of SIDS was put to bed with their normal bedtime routine and then discovered lifeless by the parents in the morning. SIDS is very scary to new parents. I know the possibility of losing one of my own babies to SIDS was my biggest fear for the first two years of each of their lives. I checked on them often throughout the night just to make sure they were breathing.
Here you will learn what SIDS is, the risk factors of SIDS, potential causes of SIDS, and the statistics of SIDS.
Image: My third baby at one day old.
SIDS Statistics - SIDS facts and statistics
- SIDS occurs in 1.4 out of every 1,000 live births.
- Boy babies are more likely to die of SIDS than girl babies.
- SIDS usually occurs between the ages of 1 to 4 months.
- SIDS accounts for the deaths of close to 3,000 babies in the US each year.
- SIDS is the leading killer among healthy babies over 1 month old.
- Approximately 9 infants die each day of SIDS.
What is SIDS?
What is sudden infant death syndrome?
SIDS is a heartbreaking experience for any parent. SIDS is a mysterious condition that claims the lives of nearly 3,000 babies in the United States alone each year. SIDS only affects healthy babies, which makes it such a shock to the parents who lose their babies to this very scary and very real condition.
So little is known about SIDS even today because when a baby passes from sudden infant death syndrome, no cause of death can be found even in a very extensive autopsy. Many doctors explain SIDS to parents who lose a baby to it by saying one minute you have a healthy baby and the next you have a healthy dead baby.
Not knowing the exact cause of SIDS and knowing it affects healthy babies, makes it the source of a lot of anxiety for many new parents. It is common for moms and dads to constantly check on a sleeping baby to ensure they are still breathing. Many moms choose to co-sleep with their babies or to place them in a bassinet next to their bed so that they can keep a close watch.
SIDS Risk Factors - Risk factors of sudden infant death syndrome
While not a lot is known about SIDS, the medical community has been able to identify clear risk factors. The following factors greatly increase a baby's chances of dying from sudden infant death syndrome.
- Teenage pregnancy - A teenage mother is much more likely to lose her baby to SIDS than a mother over the age of 20.
- Lack of prenatal care - A mother who does not receive adequate prenatal care throughout her pregnancy is more likely to lose her baby to SIDS than a mom who received quality prenatal care.
- Cigarettes - Not only is a baby more likely to die of SIDS if his mother smoked while she was pregnant, but second hand smoke in the home after the baby is born also increases the risk for SIDS.
- Low birth weight - Babies who have a birth weight under 7 lbs are more likely to die of SIDS than babies who are born weighing more than 7 lbs. This is one reason why it's critical that a pregnant woman carry her baby as close to full term as possible.
- Extreme temperatures - A baby is more sensitive to hot and cold than an adult or even older child. If a baby's sleep environment is either too hot or too cold, the risk of SIDS is greatly increased.
Causes of SIDS
While there is still so much to learn about sudden infant death syndrome, the medical community does have several hypotheses as to what causes SIDS.
The newest hypothesis as to a possible cause for SIDS was released on May 29, 2008 in a British study. This study found that common bacterial infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) seem to be present in many cases of SIDS. The idea of a bacterial infection causing SIDS is logical since it occurs most often between the ages of 1 to 4 months, when the baby is starting to lose the mom's antibodies that he gained in the womb but has yet to develop antibodies of his own.
Some babies who have died of SIDS have been reported to have abnormalities in their medulla oblongata. This defect causes disturbances in the brain's receptors for serotonin, which affects the baby's sleep cycles and controls important functions like breathing, blood pressure, and waking. This type of brain disorder eventually corrects itself sometime after the first year, explaining why SIDS only affects infants. Furthermore, boys naturally have fewer serotonin receptors than girls, which also helps to explain why boy babies are more likely to die of SIDS than girl babies. If this abnormality of the medulla oblongata is in fact the cause of SIDS, the risk can be decreased sightly by having a baby sleep on an incline (like with a reflux wedge) up until the baby starts to roll over.
There is clearly a genetic factor related to the incidence of SIDS. If a baby dies of SIDS, his future siblings are more likely to also dies of SIDS than a baby born into a family with no cases of SIDS. SIDS has been shown to run in families, though doctors are not yet sure what factors in a family's DNS contribute to this.
It is now believed that anywhere from 5% to 20% of past infant deaths that were ruled as SIDS were actually the result of child abuse. SIDS used to be the common ruling of an unexpected infant death without performing an autopsy.
Image: My second baby at two weeks old.
Baby Products that Help Reduce SIDS Risk - Baby gear that helps reduce SIDS
There are some affordable items that may help to prevent SIDS. These are my favorites.
SIDS Links - Links to more information about SIDS
Read even more helpful information about sudden infant death syndrome.
- ::: American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute :::
Learn all about SIDS including causes, risk factors, and prevention.
- Sudden infant death syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A clear and complete definition of SIDS.
- SIDS Families
A comfort zone for grieving families who have lost a child to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) founded by SIDS mom Lydia after her son Jacob died in 1999. At SIDS Families, family members can request to add their SIDS baby to Heaven's Nursery, wri
- SIDS Network home page
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Other Infant Death (SIDS/OID) Information Web Site.
SIDS Support Book
This book provides explanations, comfort, and support for families dealing with the terrible loss of losing a baby to SIDS.
If you or a friend have lost a baby to SIDS, this book can help you deal with the terrible loss by answering a lot of your questions.
SIDS is a heartbreaking condition. It's important that new parents educate themselves on the risk factors of SIDS and how to help prevent it.