Sudden infant death syndrome

Doctors use the term "sudden infant death syndrome" (SIDS), to refer to cases where a baby dies suddenly without apparent cause. The baby usually stops breathing during sleep and suffocates. Even healthy children are at risk, and despite the efforts of paediatricians, the specific causes of SIDS are still unknown.

Sudden infant death syndrome most commonly affects babies between the second and fourth month after birth, and the second month is most risky. Children are at risk of SIDS up to one year of age.

SIDS is very insidious because it has no symptoms by which you would know that your child is at risk. 22,000 infants around the world die of the disease each year. Around 25 babies die of SIDS each year in the Czech Republic; the most cases are in the Moravian-Silesian Region. Statistics show that the syndrome affects boys more than girls and that babies die more often in colder months (sleeping in overheated rooms).

Although the cause of SIDS is unknown, international studies have revealed various risk factors that increase the likelihood of the disease.

The mother’s role:

  • anaemia
  • smoking and drugs
  • uterine infection
  • low age (16-17)
  • basic education
  • low socioeconomic level
  • incomplete family
  • short interval since previous pregnancy
  • inadequate nutrition and pre-natal care

Before and after birth:

  • premature birth
  • overdue pregnancy
  • shortage of oxygen
  • growth retardation
  • problematic development in the first three months of pregnancy
  • disorders of breathing and heart rhythm, thermo-regulation, metabolism and immunity

Other factors:

  • bottle feeding
  • overheating the baby (clothing, blankets, overheated room)
  • overly soft mattress
  • sleeping on belly
  • sleeping with parents in one bed
  • a feverish illness in the last two weeks of life

8 tips for reducing the risk of SIDS

With the right care you can significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. For example, thanks to parent education the number of cases in the U.S. has dropped by 75% since 1980.

  1. Use a baby breathing monitor
    The most reliable protection against SIDS is the regular use of a breathing monitor. If the baby stops breathing (a so-called ALTE event occurs), Nanny will sound a loud alarm. You are immediately aware of the baby’s respiratory arrest and will be able to give your baby first aid. In many cases, this is not even necessary because the alarm awakes the child from a deep sleep and "reminds" him/her to breathe.

  2. Put your baby to sleep on its back
    Babies who sleep on their belly or side have a higher incidence of SIDS.

  3. Use a firmer mattress
    According to experts, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome is higher in children sleeping on soft mattresses with heavy blankets.

  4. Give your baby its own cot
    Place your baby in its own cot, which should be in the parents' bedroom for at least six months. If the breathing monitor triggers an alarm, you are close at hand.

  5. Beware of overheating
    Overheating increases the risk of SIDS. So maintain a pleasant temperature in the room and dress your baby enough to keep it warm even without a blanket.

  6. Breastfeed your baby
    One of the risk factors is various infections. But if you breastfeed your baby, it will develop a much stronger immune system.

  7. Avoid smoke-filled rooms
    Cigarette smoke is not good for your baby, so don’t let anyone smoke in his/her presence.

  8. Give your baby a dummy
    Some studies have found that babies sleeping with a dummy have a lower incidence of SIDS. The cause is not precisely known. One possibility is that with a dummy they hold their head away from the mattress or that they have lighter sleep and discomfort caused by a break in breathing wakes them up.

You can find this useful

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