October is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Awareness Month. At The Baby Sleep Site™, we strongly believe in helping to create as much awareness about SIDS as we can. Safe sleep habits are just as important as healthy sleep habits. Each year we post about SIDS to help to continue to educate parents and families about how to help best ensure that babies are sleeping as safely as possible. The number of babies dying from SIDS continues to decline and a large part of that decline is attributed to raising the awareness of how to reduce the risks of SIDS.
What is SIDS?
SIDS is the diagnosis given when an infant under one year of age dies suddenly and there is no other medial explanation for the death after a complete examination.
What causes SIDS?
New studies and research suggest that some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make them susceptible to SIDS as infants. These studies have shown that many SIDS infants have abnormalities in the portion of their brain that controls breathing and waking during sleep. Babies born with other brain or body defects may also be more prone to sudden death. Other studies have suggested that lower serotonin levels may also play a role in SIDS.
Additional research and studies out this year suggest additional findings that further support having babies sleep on their backs. A study out of Australia suggested that babies who sleep on their stomachs had lower levels of oxygen than babies who slept on their backs. This research is perhaps one indicator of why babies who sleep on their stomachs may be at a higher risk for SIDS, as the lower levels of oxygen may mean their brains are less able to wake them if they are in danger of not breathing.
SIDS is most likely to occur in infants between one month and 12 months of age with the majority of deaths occurring between 2 and 4 months of age. The risk of SIDS goes down significantly after the first year.
Can SIDS be prevented?
Currently, there is no way to completely prevent SIDS. There are steps parents can take to help reduce the risks associated with SIDS.
- Place babies on their backs to sleep. If baby falls asleep on his tummy, gently roll baby onto his back.
- Be sure to use a crib mattress that meets current safety and regulation standards. Crib mattresses should be firm and fit snugly in the crib frame. Crib sheets should be tight fitting.
- Do not place anything soft, loose or fluffy in the crib such as pillows, stuffed animals or crib bumpers. Crib bumpers have recently be outlawed in several states this year.
- Use a baby sleep sack or other type of sleeper rather than blankets to help keep baby warm.
- Make sure your baby does not get too warm while sleeping (Click here to read about baby’s ideal temperature). Use light sleep clothing or sleep clothing that helps to regulate body temperature and keep the room temperature at a level that is comfortable.
- Do not place baby to sleep on any soft surface such as a pillow top mattress, pillows, comforters, water beds or sheepskin.
- Good prenatal care and breastfeeding can also help to lower the risk of SIDS.
- Babies with mothers who smoked during pregnancy are at three times the risk for SIDS and babies’ exposure to passive smoke can double the risk of SIDS.
- Educate those in your life and those who care for your baby about safe sleep practices.
For More Information about SIDS and SIDS Resources
Here are some additional resources for where you can find additional information about SIDS, safe sleep practices for babies and support resources for families who have lost a child to SIDS:
- Information on SIDS/SUIDS and Still birth- FirstCandle.org
- National Sudden & Unexpected Infant/Child Death & Pregnancy Loss Resource Center- www.SIDSCenter.org
- National Institute of Child Health & Human Development- SIDS “Back to Sleep” Campaign- www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/
How You Can Help
The Baby Sleep Site™ would to ask our readers and community to help us continue to raise awareness for how to reduce the risks associated with SIDS. We ask that you share this post with your family, friends and your community. We will be tracking the number of times this article is shared and for each time this article is shared, we will be donating $1.00 to an organization that supports SIDS awareness and research up to a maximum of $500. Here are some ways you can share this article:
- Click the blue “Facebook” Share button at the bottom of this post. This button will keep a running tally of how many times it is clicked.
- Share this post on Twitter with this link: http://bit.ly/sleepsafely and tag with #safesleep. This way we can track how often it was shared on Twitter.
- Share this link, http://bit.ly/sleepsafely via email or in any other online forum or social netowrk such as your blog, tumblr, or LinkedIn. Using this specific link helps us to be able to track it.
Together, we can do our part to help promote safe sleep for all babies!