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SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
According to the NIH, it is “the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation.”
No one knows exactly what causes SIDS even though it’s the leading cause of death among babies in the U.S. ages one month to one year.
Baby Center list several risk factors that can increase the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, including:
- Preterm birth or low birth weight
- Born to a young mother under 20
- Lots of siblings close in age
- Suffering apparent life threatening event
- Certain ethnic backgrounds
- Being a boy
It is a heartbreaking occurrence, but, fortunately, there are measures you can take to help prevent Sudden Infant Deaths from happening. The typical response is following safe sleep position guidelines. However, while this is important, it is not the only factor. According to Health Day, there are intrinsic factors that also play a role. Here are two:
Smoking creates poisonous gasses that affect little ones who are just getting their breathing strength up. Dr. Sears says that cigarette smoke not only bothers little lungs, but little hearts and brains too.
“Children of smoking parents have two to three times more doctor visits because of respiratory infections. Respiratory viruses are frequently found at postmortem examination of SIDS infants. Respiratory infections within two weeks of death have been implicated in setting up a baby for SIDS.” ~Dr. Sears
It is being discovered that underlying biology could also play a role. If a baby is already biologically vulnerable, he or she may be at a higher risk for SIDs.
“It’s thought, for example, that infants who die of SIDS have abnormalities in the brain system that normally rouses someone from sleep if there’s not enough oxygen.” ~HealthDay
Babies that show alterations in their brain cells that regulate sleep neurotransmitters like serotonin may have a higher risk.
Sleep positioning is still one of the main ways to reduce SIDs along with a smoke-free environment and extra care for infants who are at greater risk due to biological factors.
October is SIDs awareness month and the end of 2015 brought this video with the new guidelines:
Health Update: SIDS awareness
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