What Causes Sids In Newborns

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What is SIDS? | Baby Care Basics | Parents

There is currently no way to predict which infants are at risk for SIDS. SIDS has links to certain infant-specific and sleep-environment factors. Therefore, observing the following precautions has reduced the risk of SIDS for many infants.

  • Sleep position and the local sleep environment: Educate babysitters, day care providers, grandparents, and everyone who cares for your baby about SIDS risk and the importance of observing the latest advice related to safe infant sleep offered in the original “Back to Sleep” campaign and updated in the recent “Safe to Sleep” initiative. Safe to Sleep messages highlight the importance of the back sleep position with emphasis on safety surrounding the infant sleep environment and safe sleep conditions:
  • Back to sleep: You should place your baby on his or her back to sleep at night and nap time.
  • You should avoid fluffy, loose bedding in your baby’s sleep area.
  • Keep your baby’s face clear of coverings.
  • Be careful not to overheat your baby by overdressing or adding unnecessary covers.
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • Use a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib with a tight fitting sheet. Avoid the use of infant positioning devices.
  • Have your baby sleep in your room for the first six to 12 months of life.
  • Do not allow your baby to sleep alongside another person. The risk of unintentional smothering is too great.
  • Keep all “well-child” appointments, including immunizations.

Whats The Difference Between Sids And Suid

Sudden unexpected infant death, or SUID, is the sudden death of a baby that cant be predicted and cant be explained before being investigated. Types of SUIDs can include SIDS as well as suffocation, strangulation or choking. The cause of death is said to be SIDS when doctors cant pinpoint the cause of death even after an autopsy.

Like SIDS, SUID doesnt come with any warning signs and it cant be prevented.

Speculation About Causes And Current Understanding Of Sids

Many have speculated about the causes of SIDS, and while a number of possible factors have been pointed out, there is still no clearly defined cause of SIDS to this day. One theory is that a genetic defect in an enzyme causes the brain to be deprived of energy, resulting in a coma . Another theory focuses on the connection between abnormalities in breathing patterns/heart rhythm and SIDS . Others speculate that a combination of factors and conditions results in SIDS .

There are also factors that increase the risk of SIDS, including mothers smoking during pregnancy, using drugs or alcohol, being underweight, having children less than one year apart, having children in teen years, and being obese. Babies who are born prematurely, weigh less than 4 pounds, are not breastfed, or are part of a set of twins/triplets/quadruplets are also at an increased risk of SIDS .

Additionally, the infants sleeping positions seem to play a role in deaths diagnosed as SIDS. Studies have shown that placing a baby on its stomach or side to sleep increases the risk of SIDS, as they would re-breathe their own carbon dioxide and would not be able to turn to get more oxygen . This risk is reduced by putting a baby on its back to sleep in the supine sleeping position. Another study also shows that the use of pacifiers may protect against SIDS, reducing the risk of SIDS by 90% .

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Never Leave The Baby Alone During Tummy Time

Tummy time is essential to help strengthen the babys muscles. But supervised tummy time is the key. The duration of tummy time should be set based on the babys age and depending on whether he likes being on his tummy. No matter how long he is on his tummy, you should be around to monitor him continuously. Also, make sure that he is on his tummy only when he is wide awake and active and not when he is tired and sleepy.

Key Points About Sids

Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ...
  • SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant younger than age 1. It is most common between 2 and 4 months old.

  • Researchers don’t know the exact causes of SIDS.

  • There is no way to tell which babies will die from SIDS.

  • To lower the risk for SIDS, get regular prenatal care and breastfeed your baby. Don’t smoke during pregnancy.

  • To lower the risk for SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, your baby should sleep and take naps on his or her back.

  • Your baby should sleep in the same room with you for at least the first 6 months. Place the baby close to your bed, but in a separate bed or crib for infants.

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Safe To Sleep: Reducing The Risk Of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

  • Position: Always place the infant on the infants back to sleep, for naps and at night.

  • Surface: Place the infant on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.

  • Bedding: Keep soft objects, toys, blankets, and other loose bedding out of the infants sleep area.

  • No smoking: Do not allow smoking around the infant. Not smoking during pregnancy is also important.

  • Location: Set up the infants sleep area close to but separate from the sleep area of the parents and other children.

  • Pacifiers: Consider offering the infant a clean, dry pacifier when placing the infant down to sleep.

  • Temperature: Do not let the infant overheat during sleep.

Home monitors and products that claim to prevent sudden infant death syndrome do not seem helpful.

To help prevent flat spots from developing on the infant’s head, infants should spend some time on their tummy when they are awake and someone is watching them. To help make the infant’s head round, parents should change the direction that the infant lies in while in the crib each week and avoid leaving the infant for too long in car seats, carriers, and bouncers.

Adapted from The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development .

Germ Theory Of Disease

In , the historian was the first person to write, in his account of the , that diseases could spread from an infected person to others. In his On the Different Types of Fever , the Greco-Roman physician speculated that plagues were spread by “certain seeds of plague”, which were present in the air. In the , the ancient Indian physician theorized: “Leprosy, fever, consumption, diseases of the eye, and other infectious diseases spread from one person to another by sexual union, physical contact, eating together, sleeping together, sitting together, and the use of same clothes, garlands and pastes.” This book has been dated to about the sixth century BC.

A basic form of contagion theory was proposed by physician in , which later became the most authoritative medical textbook in Europe up until the 16th century. In Book IV of the Canon, Ibn Sina discussed , outlining the classical and attempting to blend it with his own early contagion theory. He mentioned that people can transmit disease to others by breath, noted contagion with , and discussed the transmission of disease through water and dirt. The concept of invisible contagion was later discussed by several in the who referred to them as . The scholar , while discussing and , gave warnings about how contagion can contaminate water, food, and garments, and could spread through the water supply, and may have implied contagion to be unseen particles.

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Research On Possible Causes Of Sids

Most scientists believe that babies who die of SIDS are born with one or more conditions that cause unexpected responses to the internal and external stressors common during an infant’s life. Many researchers argue that finding the cause or causes of SIDS lies in a deeper understanding of the development and functions of the brain and nervous system of infants, including those who succumb to SIDS.1

What Can I Do To Reduce The Risk Of Sids

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: What You Need To Know About SIDS
  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep for bed time and nap time.
  • Use a safety approved crib with a firm mattress. Drop side cribs should not be used. For information on crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov.
  • Remove all loose bedding, such as pillows, quilts, stuffed toys and other soft items from the crib.
  • Don’t let your baby become too warm.
  • Make sure your baby’s head is uncovered.
  • Don’t smoke while pregnant.
  • Don’t smoke around your baby and don’t let anyone else smoke around your baby.
  • Don’t allow bed-sharing, even with siblings.
  • Don’t use bumper pads in cribs due to suffocation or strangulation hazards.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Studies show breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Consider offering a pacifier after breastfeeding is established, at bed time and at nap time.
  • Room-share with your baby, without bed-sharing.
  • Don’t use products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS, including wedges and positioners.
  • Take your baby for their well-child appointments, including vaccinations.
  • Maintain a safe sleep environment safety approved crib, fitted sheet and firm mattress.
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    Maintain A Comfortable Temperature In The Nursery

    Make sure you don’t overheat your baby with swaddling or high room temperature. “A nursery that’s too warm substantially increases an infant’s SIDS risk,” says Warren Guntheroth, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, in Seattle. That might be because the warm baby falls into such a deep sleep that it is difficult for him to awaken if he is in trouble. Set the thermostat at 68 degrees, don’t put the crib near a radiator, and dress your child in light layers that you can remove easily if she gets hot.

    What Is Safe To Sleep

    Since the AAP’s recommendation, the rate of SIDS has dropped greatly. Still, SIDS remains the leading cause of death in young infants. The “Safe to Sleep” campaign builds on “Back to Sleep,” reminding parents and caregivers to put infants to sleep on their backs and provide a safe sleep environment.

    Here’s how parents can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths:

    For parents and families who have experienced a SIDS death, many groups, including First Candle, can provide grief counseling, support, and referrals.

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    Not Recommended For Sleep

    Using baby slings and carriers is popular, and babies often fall asleep while being carried in them. If you use one, be sure to use it safely. Babies, especially who are less than 4 months old, or who were born prematurely or with a medical condition, have poor neck control and are at a higher risk of suffocation.

    Keep your baby visible at all times. Make sure your baby is in an upright position. You should be able to see your babys face make sure it is not pressed into your body, your clothes or the carrier. Check your baby often and watch for overheating. For more information, visit Canada.ca .

    Overheating increases your babys risk of SIDS

    Swaddling is sometimes used to calm babies, but can also be a risk. Babies can get tangled or covered in the blanket if it comes loose, or can roll onto their tummy while still swaddled. These are risks for suffocation. If you swaddle your baby, be sure to do it safely:

    • Use a lightweight blanket. Make sure it stays well away from the babys nose and mouth.
    • Wrap your baby so they can still move their hips and legs.
    • Leave your babys hands free so they can show you when they are hungry.
    • It is very important to stop swaddling before your baby can roll. Swaddling is not safe for babies when they are on their tummies.

    Coping With The Loss From Sudden Infant Death Syndrome


    Anyone who has ever experienced the death of a baby is heartbroken, no matter what the reason. If youre struggling with this loss, its important to give yourself time to heal and possibly even seek counseling. Ask your doctor for recommendations for grief and counseling services. Its important to talk about what you are feeling and how its affecting your work, home, and relationships.

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    What Are The Sids Risk Factors

  • Infants who are placed on their sides or tummies at bed time or nap time
  • Use of any soft or loose bedding, including quilts, heavy blankets and bumper pads
  • Bed-sharing
  • Overheating or over-bundling the baby
  • Maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy and infant’s exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Little or no prenatal care
  • Maternal age less than 20 years
  • Premature or low birth weight babies
  • Regulate The Temperature Of The Room

    Choose a well-ventilated room for your baby to rest and play in. Ensure that your heating system is working fine and set the temperature to warm while making sure that it doesnt get too hot at night, especially if your thermostat is faulty. It should not get too cold either. The right ambient temperature plays a vital role in influencing the sleep quality of the infant.

    A safe sleep environment thus requires a careful choice of crib, mattress, furnishing, and placement as well. Avoid putting your baby to sleep on the couch or a chair.

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    How Common Is Sids

    The SIDS rate has dropped dramatically. However, there are approximately 2,500 infants who die of SIDS every year in the U.S., and SIDS is the third leading cause of infant mortality. In 2009, SIDS was responsible for 57 infant deaths in Illinois, compared with 106 infant deaths in 1999. SIDS occurs more often in males and in African-American and American Indian or Alaskan Native infants. More SIDS deaths occur in the colder months.

    Disparities In Sids Deaths

    Sudden Infant Death syndrome, Causes and Prevention

    It is also important to note that there are racial/ethnic disparities in SIDS deaths. African American, Native American, and Alaska Native babies all are at a higher risk of SIDS deaths than caucasian babies. African American babies are twice as likely to die from SIDS, while Native American and Alaska Native babies are three times as likely . Like the causes of SIDS, these disparities are also unexplained. It may be a result of health disparities and cultural differences that make populations more prone to the risk factors of SIDS. Another explanation that is offered is that the efforts of awareness campaigns in different countries are not reaching certain communities.

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    Seeking Medical Advice If Your Baby Is Unwell

    Babies often have minor illnesses that you do not need to worry about. Give your baby plenty of fluids to drink and do not let them get too hot.

    If you’re worried about your baby at any point, see your GP or call NHS 111 for advice.

    Dial 999 for an ambulance if your baby:

    • stops breathing or turns blue
    • is struggling for breath
    • is unconscious or seems unaware of what’s going on
    • will not wake up

    Read more about spotting signs of serious illness in children.

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