Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS has long been feared by parents of babies under one-year of age. And this is but rightfully so as this crib killer still continues to claim the lives of thousands of babies around the world every single day. And the worst thing is that medical experts still do not know what the exact causes of the syndrome are. But while this is the case, we parents can always educate ourselves as to the situations that increase the risk for this syndrome so that we can take the necessary precautions.
1. Bacterial Infections
According to a British medical study released in May 2008, two types of bacteria, namely Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (staph) have been found to be in unusual concentrations in the bodies of infants who have died of the syndrome. To lessen your child’s chances of contracting bacterial infections, follow these steps:
* Breastfeed. As you probably already know, a mother’s breast milk contains natural antibodies that help strengthen the baby’s resistance to infections.
* Sterilize baby’s stuff. Baby bottles, spoons, even teethers, should be cleansed properly. Usual methods for sterilizing baby accessories are boiling, microwaving, use of sterilization tablets, or freezing.
* Be mindful when preparing solid food for the baby. Vegetable items should be meticulously washed before cooking. Meat products should be thoroughly washed and cooked as well.
2. Airway Covering Due to Co-Sleeping
The chances of your baby’s airways getting covered during sleep are very high when he or she co-sleeps with other family members in one bed. So it would be best to place baby in a separate crib or cot to reduce the potential of SIDS.
3. Sleeping Position
It has been found that SIDS commonly occurs to babies that have been put to sleep on their tummies. While the exact mechanics is entirely unclear, it seems that airway covering is the culprit. So just to be on the safe side, it would be best to position baby with his or her back against the bed every time.
4. Airway Covering Due to Excessive Bedding
Use of too large or too thick bed sheets can cause airway covering as well. So opt to use lighter beddings that are just about the right size for the mattress. Avoid placing toys especially stuffed animals in baby’s crib or cot as well.
5. Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
The bodies of babies who unfortunately died from SIDS have been found with unusually high levels of nicotine. Furthermore, cotinine, a biomarker indicating exposure to tobacco smoke, has been found in infants who died of the syndrome as well. This being the case, it is crucial to completely eliminate your baby’s exposure to secondhand smoke. Do not smoke during the whole length of your pregnancy. And ensure that family members who smoke don’t do so in the same room where baby is.
6. Poor Indoor Ventilation
Molds have been found to cause lung bleeding even on fairly healthy adults. So imagine just what these microbes can do to the underdeveloped lungs of an infant. So ensure proper ventilation at all times by maintaining your home’s HVAC system in good condition always. Doing so will minimize the chances of molds and other dangerous gases from permeating inside the home.
SIDS is an insidious killer that strikes when we least expect it. So we parents must do all we can to guard our precious children from this syndrome. Aside from following the above recommendations, you might want to consider using baby movement monitors as well. These apparatuses detect the baby’s breathing movements and sound an alarm when non-movement is detected within a given period of time. This way, quick and appropriate intervention can be done to save the baby’s life.