Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – What You Need to Know
Based on this and other information, the following recommendations have been made:
- Place your baby on his or her back for sleeping. Not even the side position is safe.
- Use only firm bedding surfaces, and keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib or bassinet.
- Do not overheat the baby – do not overdress the baby or use heavy blankets. Keep the room temperature moderate.
- Do not smoke during pregnancy or around the baby. The environment should be smoke-free.
- The baby needs to sleep in a bassinet or crib, near your bed. Do not sleep with the baby in bed or on a couch.
- Once breastfeeding has been established during the first month, try giving the baby a pacifier before he or she goes to sleep.
Sleeping on the back will flatten the back of your baby's head. To counteract this, when the baby is awake, put him or her face down. This also gives the baby a chance to strengthen his or her neck muscles and gain some upper body control.
You may have heard about apnea relating to SIDS. It was thought that babies stopped breathing and died, causing SIDS. There was a period of time when babies thought to be at risk, for example, premature infants, were sent home with apnea monitors. In fact, apnea has nothing to do with SIDS. Babies with apnea are no more at risk for SIDS than other babies, and the use of apnea monitors does not change the risk of SIDS.
When an infant suddenly dies or has a life-threatening event, doctors will focus on various causes of severe illness in babies, which can include heart abnormalities, problems with the gastrointestinal tract, brain disorders, infections, and trauma, among other things. Since suffocation is one of the reasons for the sudden death of a baby, parents of a child with SIDS are usually examined carefully. The percent of SIDS babies where they have actually been suffocated is anywhere from 1% to 5% of cases. Most cases of SIDS are tragic and inexplicable.
Any family who has lost a child to SIDS needs as much support as possible, access to counseling, and also group therapy. They also need to know that there is no increased risk of having a second baby die of SIDS.