How Much Do You Know About SIDS?
Most people, whether they have young children or not, are aware of SIDS. The acronym stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The condition has been better highlighted in recent years, but we still don’t know everything there is to know about it. This article should help to highlight some of the most important things you should know about SIDS, particularly if you have a young baby or you are currently expecting. Having more information at hand means you can reduce the risks of going through this traumatic experience personally.
What is SIDS?
The proper description for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is that it is the sudden and unexplained death of a young baby. It occurs while they are sleeping, most often during the night, but it can also happen at other times when they are sleeping during the day.
Some official medical sources state that this typically occurs when the child is under the age of one. Other medical sources use the age of two as the cut off period. However most cases do occur with younger babies who have not yet reached their first birthday. The first few months of life are the most likely period of time when SIDS could occur.
The term cot death is also often used and may be more familiar to some people than the term SIDS. However a cot death may have a specific cause that is discovered upon further investigation. SIDS is usually the term given in a case where no firm cause is discovered.
What causes SIDS?
The one aspect of SIDS that probably concerns most parents and parents to be is that we do not yet know what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to occur. This is why it can be important to distinguish between the term cot death and the acronym SIDS.
Sometimes a cot death can occur and a specific cause of death is later found to be the culprit. For instance the baby may have been born with a defect of some kind that was not discovered. In this situation the defect will be the cause of death. But in other cases no such cause can be discovered. It is these cases that are labeled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
However research has revealed that there are some factors that seem to increase the chances of SIDS occurring. It is important to remember that current research does not point to any one of these as being the specific cause of SIDS. Instead they may increase the odds of a baby succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It therefore makes sense to ensure you avoid as many of these potential triggers as possible. Some of the triggers include having parents who smoke, overheating during the night and sharing a bed with their parents. Later on in this article we shall look at some of the best things you can do to reduce the chances of SIDS occurring to your own baby.
One excellent way to reduce the odds is to purchase a baby movement monitor. This is a different kind of baby monitor because it has been specifically designed to alert the parents if the baby should stop breathing. A special pad goes underneath the baby and monitors its movements during the night. If the baby does stop breathing a loud alarm sounds that will wake the parents.
Some monitors also gently disturb the baby if no movement is sensed within a few seconds. There are also portable, clip-on monitors. More information on baby movement monitor reviews here.
Statistics about SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has been very well publicised and documented over recent years. The latest statistics show that around 7000 babies every year succumb to SIDS in USA alone. That’s nearly one baby every hour every day!!!
Certain babies have also been found to be more susceptible to SIDS than others:
The most crucial time period is between one month and four months of age. After this the risk decreases.
Premature babies are also known to be more at risk than babies who are born around the time they are due.
Babies whose birthweight was very low are also more at risk, and this could also be connected to premature babies for obvious reasons.
Boys have also proved to be more likely to be victims of SIDS, although no reason has yet been discovered as to why this should be the case.
The vast majority of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases also occur during the night. Typically this will be between around midnight and nine o’clock in the morning. However experience has shown that some cases occur at other times, although it will always be when the baby is asleep.
It can be very scary to read all this information about SIDS, particularly if you are expecting a baby or you have a young baby at home at the moment. But do not concentrate on negatives – think about everything you can do to minimize risks!
Personally for me, baby movement monitors worked great as they gave me that much needed piece of mind when my little Charlotte was asleep. Surely, we never know whatever a baby movement monitor can prevent 100% cot death or SIDS cases but from what I have learned, they for sure minimize risks to minimum.
How can SIDS be prevented?
We have already discovered that no firm cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has yet been found. However there is a lot you can do as a parent to reduce the chances of SIDS occurring as far as you possibly can. Read through all the following pointers and see how many of them you are already aware of.
1. Identify any allergic reactions.
If you think your baby may be allergic to something or shows signs of a cold that doesn’t seem to go away, consult your doctor.
2. Prevent your baby from overheating.
Make sure you keep light sheets or blankets over your baby at night. Don’t use anything that is too thick and monitor the temperature of the room so it does not become too warm. A fan may prove useful during the warmer months, but don’t aim it directly at the cot.
3. Stop smoking if you still do – and make sure your partner stops as well.
We all know smoking is bad for us, but it can be bad for your baby as well. The best course of action is to give up before you fall pregnant. The same goes for your partner! If you do still smoke and you cannot give up, make sure you smoke outside instead of in the home and always well away from the baby.
4. Make sure your baby adopts the best sleeping positions.
Your baby should always be laid down to sleep on their back. This limits the chance of them pressing their face into the bedding and possibly blocking their airway. Similarly you should also make sure their feet are right down at the bottom of the cot. Adjust the position of their blanket or covers accordingly. If you do this your baby won’t be able to move down underneath the covers. Not only is this safer for them, it also means they are far less likely to overheat during the night.
5. Don’t be tempted to let your baby share your bed with you.
Some people believe it is best to bond with their baby by letting them sleep with their parents in the same bed. But this can increase the risk of SIDS. No matter how careful you are you can never tell what may happen while you are asleep. While there is the risk of rolling on top of your baby, even rolling close to them may hamper their breathing in some way.
6. Invest in one of the many excellent baby movement monitors on the market.
There are several different ones available, but they are all designed to help reduce the risk of SIDS. They are set up to monitor every tiny movement the baby makes. If the baby should stop moving at any stage, an alarm will be set off and the parents will awaken. Most of these monitors have a sensor mat that goes underneath the baby. This is a superb way to keep them safe because you can remove it and take it on holiday with you too if you wish.
What to Do?
As you can see there are many different factors which seem to increase the risk of a baby succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It makes sense to do everything you can to reduce those risks. By reading through all the steps above and making sure you adhere to them, you will be reducing the chances of experiencing this traumatic time.
It is easy to read about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and start worrying about the health and safety of your own baby. But by focusing on what you can do to further reduce the already small chances of going through this experience, you are taking practical steps in the right direction.
Continue reading – my experience with Baby Movement Monitors.