Newborn SIDS: (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Risk
By Loraine Stern M.D.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the tragic, unexpected death of healthy babies 12 months or younger. SIDS is the leading cause of death for children under one year and the peak age is 2-4 months.
Although SIDS occurs during periods of sleep, whether it is during deep sleep, during the period between waking and sleeping or between sleep periods is not known. What is also not known is the cause. Perhaps it has to do with mechanisms for arousal in the brain stem or respiratory control.. At this time there is no way to predict which infants are at risk.
What we do know that immunizations or choking does NOT cause SIDS.
There are ways you can reduce the risk. The most important is to always put your baby down to sleep on his back. Since the “Back to Sleep” campaign in 2003, SIDS deaths have been cut in half. Nevertheless, in 2005, 2200 infants in the US died of SIDS.
About 1 out of 5 SIDS deaths occur when in the care of someone who is not a parent – a baby sitter, a child care center or a relative. Make sure that these people always put your baby down on her back.
The risk is higher for infants whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and who are exposed to second hand smoke after birth. SIDS is more common in the winter months, perhaps because overheating is another risk factor. Having blankets, bumper pads and stuffed animals in the crib also increases the risk.
If your newborn startles and does not sleep as well on his/her back, try swaddling her with a light blanket but reduce the layers she is wearing to avoid overheating. Do not use positioning devices, which the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend. If you are worried about your newborn getting a flat head, be sure that there is generous tummy time when your little one is awake and being observed by an adult. And most flat heads round out after the first few months. After all, how many flat heads do you see in a kindergarten class? Tummy time is also important for development of upper body strength and coordination.
When your newborn can turn over, that is the time to let him/her assume any position he or she wants. If you do not, you will be up and down all night turning him/her over. The newborn video will discuss even more ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.