Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a condition where a healthy infant die unexpectedly and abruptly. There is also no explanation for the cause of the death. Even if investigation is performed, the root cause of death could not be determined.
The condition is also called as crib death which typically occurs while the infant is asleep. Although rare, it is the usual cause of death for children below 1 year old. It is likely to occur between the ages of 2-4 months old.
Sudden infant death syndrome does not have any evident symptoms. It generally occurs abruptly and unexpectedly among infants who appear to be healthy.
What are the causes?
The precise cause is unknown but there are some potential causes. Some of these causes include:
- Brain irregularity in the area that regulates breathing
- Form of apnea where there are periods of breathing cessation while sleeping
What are the risk factors?
Although the cause is not known, sudden infant death syndrome has several risk factors. Most of these can be avoided, thus it is vital to be aware of them.
Some of these risk factors include:
- Positioning the infant in a sleeping position on his/her stomach or side before reaching 1 year old
- Respiratory infections
- Brain defects
- Premature birth or multiple births
- Low weight at birth
- Family history of SIDS
- Race (Native American and African-American infants face a higher risk)
- Gender (males have a slightly higher risk)
- Common during cold weather
- Young mother (below 20 years old)
- Unsafe or old crib
- Co-sleeping (sharing the bed with a parent or caregiver)
- Not breastfeeding
- Bedding or mattress that is too soft
- Not using a pacifier for sleep
- Crib with soft objects
Avoidance of these risk factors can lower the risk for sudden infant death syndrome.
What is the outlook
Sudden infant death syndrome does not have a precise cause and could not always be prevented. Nevertheless, taking the right action can lower the risk.
Regular appointments with the doctor during pregnancy as well as the baby’s doctor after birth are vital.