Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Also known as crib or cot death, SIDS is sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age. It generally happens during sleep. The exact cause of SIDS is unknown.

Risk Factors –
It has been observed that death is likely to happen due to a combination of multiple causes or occur when infants have underlying biological vulnerability and are exposed to external triggers.

Some risks include –

 Tobacco
About 22% of SIDS in U.S. is related to mothers who smoked during pregnancy. Even one cigarette a day during pregnancy, doubles the risk of SIDS

 Sleeping on tummy or in prone position
Babies who sleep on their tummy or in prone position are at increased risk. Excessive bedding, clothing, soft sleeping surfaces, stuffed animals, elevated or reduced room temperature also increase risk.

 Co-sleeping
Sleeping with parents or siblings also acts as a risk factor, especially if they are using alcohol, tobacco or smoking. Room sharing without bed sharing decreases the risk by 50%.

 Mother and infant health
Teenage mothers have a greater risk compared to mothers with increased maternal age. Inadequate pre-natal care also increases risk.
Premature birth and low birth weight are significant risk factors. Premature babies are at four times the risk compared to full term babies. This risk is related to the underdeveloped ability to control their cardio-vascular system.

 Genetics
SIDS is more prevalent in male infants. Male babies are at 50 % more risk if any of the above mentioned risk factors are also present.

Some measures that are found effective in preventing SIDS are –

 Sleeping position
Evidence has shown that sleeping on the back or in supine position reduces the risk tremendously. It is promoted by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as “Safe to Sleep” campaign.

 Pacifiers
The use of pacifiers could lead toa decrease the risk but the reason is unclear. There is no concrete evidence found in support of this

 Vaccination
Timely immunization of DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) vaccine shows to reduce the risk of SIDS

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