The loss of an infant to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is devastating for parents, families and their health professionals. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), SIDS claims the lives of nearly 3,500 babies each year in the United States. It’s the leading cause of death for infants 1 to 12 months of age. But by following a few tips, parents and grandparents can help prevent SIDS.
What Is SIDS?
A SIDS diagnosis is made when an infant in otherwise good health dies unexpectedly and the cause remains undetermined following an autopsy. SIDS typically occurs during sleep. The cause is unknown. It’s believed there could be a connection with SIDS and an underlying susceptibility, a specific time in development and environmental stressors, as well as exposure to tobacco smoke, bed sharing or being born before 39 weeks.
How to Reduce the Risk
Through ongoing SIDS research, medical professionals have found ways that may help reduce the risk of SIDS:
- Put your baby to sleep on their back – not their tummies and not their sides.
- Make sure the mattress is firm with a tight fitting sheet.
- Have their crib in your room so you can monitor them.
- If they’ll take a pacifier, let them have a pacifier during sleep time.
- Avoid putting blankets or other loose bedding, or stuffed animals in their crib.
- Breastfeeding seems to lower the risk of SIDS, but researchers aren’t sure why.
- Research shows that babies who are properly immunized see a 50 percent reduced risk of SIDS.
- Dress them in light, comfortable clothes. Some research suggests that SIDS might be caused from overheating. If you want to make sure they stay warm, try putting them in a sleep sack.
- Avoid giving honey to an infant younger than 1. It is believed that SIDS can be linked to botulism and the bacteria that cause it found in honey.
- Don’t let your baby sleep in your bed with you.
- Avoid putting the crib next to a heat source.
- Don’t allow anyone to smoke near your baby, and don’t smoke while pregnant.
Dr. Carlson is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Summer Creek Clinic. Her clinical interests include infectious diseases (both viral and bacterial), dermatologic diseases, development and Adolescent Medicine.