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Information About Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is frequently described as a parent's worst nightmare. SIDS strikes without warning in apparently healthy babies. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants who are between the ages of a month and a year old. Even though SIDS is visibly a major concern and has received much attention in the way of research and other efforts, numerous studies still have not changed the fact that SIDS is unpredictable and unpreventable. The unanswered questions cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to be so alarming to any parent. Research into the causes of SIDS has led doctors to recommend steps parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS. Consider some of the following recommended steps to reduce the risks of SIDS:

  • from birth put infants on their backs to sleep
  • ensure that babies sleep with face uncovered
  • avoid exposing infants to cigarette smoke
  • ensure that babies have a safe sleeping environment both night and day

Almost all SIDS deaths can be linked to sleep. Because of the common link to sleep, SIDS is often referred to as Crib Death. Another unanswered question about SIDS is that infants show no signs of suffering. In almost every case of SIDS, several SIDS Risk Factors must be present in order to cause a SIDS Death. Consider the following list of SIDS Risk Factors:

  • more boys die from SIDS than girls
  • infants younger than six months
  • SIDS occurs more frequently during cold weather
  • smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy
  • poor prenatal care
  • premature or low weight birth
  • babies born to mothers younger than 20
  • smoke exposure following birth
  • Stomach Sleeping

Infants who die from SIDS may have an abnormality in the arcuate nucleus (the part of the brain that helps control breathing and awakening during sleep). The abnormality in the arcuate nucleusmay fail to cause a baby to awake and cry when the baby isn’t taking in enough oxygen during night breathing. Thus an underdeveloped or abnormal arcuate nucleus could deprive the baby of this involuntary reaction and put the baby at a greater risk of SIDS.


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