What is SIDS?

SIDS is Sudden infant death syndrome. SIDS gets its name from sudden, unexplained death of infants. These deaths cannot be explained even after forensic autopsy and taking health history of mother and infant into account. In many cases the infant is found dead in sleep. There aren’t any signs or symptoms to show the causes of death.SIDS is one of the causes of infant mortality. But since there is no breakthrough in the study of SIDS, its prevention is not known.

However, there are studies that have linked SIDS with the sleeping position of babies. If the babies are placed on their stomachs when asleep, chances of SIDS are high. This is one reason SIDS is also referred to as crib death or cot death.

Since SIDS cannot be prevented, parents of infants are advised to take as many precautions as possible.First and foremost is the sleeping position of the baby. The baby needs to be laid on its back while being put to sleep. A baby who sleeps on its stomach might not get sufficient oxygen to breathe. Since most of the infants cannot rouse themselves from deep sleep (when sleeping on stomach), lack of oxygen can lead to breathing problem leading to death.

Breastfed infants have low rate of SIDS among them. The rate of SIDS is alarmingly high in infants who are not breast fed. Studies have proven that mother’s milk reduces the chances of SIDS by almost 50%.

Co-sleeping is another factor that contributes to SIDS. Parents should avoid making their infant sleep in the same bed as them. An infant sharing adult bed is more likely to have blocked air supply. Along with this, parents should ensure that the infant cot is not cluttered with soft toys or pillows. The infant should be appropriately dressed and the blanket should be placed till chest. The infant’s hands should be outside the blanket so that it cannot pull the blanket over its head.

Second hand smoking can also cause breathing problems in infants. Parents should keep their house smoke free by either quitting smoking or by going outside the house to smoke.There is no vaccination to prevent SIDS nor are there any theories that prove the causes of SIDS. Hence it is up to the parents to ensure a safe environment for their infant by reducing risk factors associated with SIDS.



Anubha Pandey