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There is known medical reason for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but there are currently several theories about this tragic loss of young life, and one of them is that birth defects play a role. Through education and support for parents, the SIDS Network has been striving to help those who have lost a child to SIDS and to help those who grieve and those who want to know if there is anything they can do to prevent the loss of their child. Through car donations, monetary gifts, and advocacy you too can help those who grieve.
Why Does It Happen?
The causes of SIDS are currently unknown, but some medical professional have suggested a few theories that make sense and as more data is gathered, hopefully more infant death will be able to be prevented.
- Stress- One theory is that stress, from infection or some other factor, causes death in an otherwise normal baby.
- Birth Defects- Many birth defects are detected during a prenatal or neonatal stage, but some birth defects take more time to become evident. Some studies suggest that undiagnosed birth defects might be the cause of crib death. Interestingly, in diagnosed birth defects, there isn’t a way to prevent SIDS. Even when a defect is known, the sudden death of an infant, without any other causation, isn’t truly preventable. With no exact known cause, there’s no way to prevent either. Though, some risk factors can be reduced.
- Failure to Develop- Babies develop rapidly both within and without the womb. Within the first few months of life, when a child is most at risk for SIDS, many physical developments are supposed to be happening inside the infant’s body. One theory about SIDS is that it might be caused by slower development.
- Rapid Development- On the other side of the coin, it’s been suggested that periods of rapid growth might also trigger sudden infant death.
The list of possible causes of SIDS can be confusing, because one cause seems to be the opposite of another cause, and that’s the heartbreaking truth behind Sudden Infant Truth Syndrome: no one really knows. But, despite the lack of definitive proof there are ways to reduce some risk factors. These aren’t a guarantee, but they are still the best options available to parents today.
- Back to Sleep- babies should always be placed on their back to sleep.
- Firm Surface- babies need a firm mattress.
- No Soft Objects- Avoid extra blankets, plush toys, and extra soft items in the crib with the baby.
- No Smoking- Smoking during pregnancy and second hand smoke put the baby at risk of SIDS
- Separate but Close Sleeping- Babies who sleep in the same room, but not the same bed, as a parent have a reduced risk of SIDS.
- Use a Pacifier- Offering a pacifier at naps and at bedtime can reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Don’t Overheat- Don’t get the baby too hot with extra clothes or blankets.
- Practice Good Physical Development- Encourage the baby to spend time on their tummy, cuddled upright, and with the head angled different ways at different times. Avoid too much time in bouncers and car seats.
Practicing good parenting is the best preventive measure you can take to keep an infant safe from SIDS. And help fund research and education through generous donations to organizations like the SIDS Network.