Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Babies who are put to sleep on their stomachs are 12.9 times more likely to die from SIDS than babies who sleep on their backs. A soft mattress or lots of bedding can create a small enclosure around the baby's face, trapping her low-oxygen, exhaled air, which could eventually contribute to SIDS.
Some people also believe that SIDS is related to immunizations because most vaccinations are administered during the same period of time that most babies die of SIDS: between 2 and 4 months. However, there is no evidence of a link between SIDS and common childhood immunizations. Recent research reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that any appearance of a connection between the two is merely a coincidence.
SIDS is diagnosed by a process of elimination; it is determined to be the cause of death only after all other possible causes of death have been ruled out through an autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a complete review of the infant's medical history. This helps distinguish SIDS deaths from those resulting from accidents, abuse, and previously undiagnosed conditions, such as cardiac or metabolic disorders.
You can decrease the likelihood that your baby will fall victim to SIDS by avoiding the risk factors mentioned above and following these tips:
Put your baby to sleep on his back, even though he may sleep more soundly on his stomach. Infants who sleep on their stomachs and sides have a higher rate of SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs.
Use a firm mattress in your baby's crib and keep the crib clear of coverings-including sheets and blankets-pillows, bumper pads, and toys. Soft mattresses and heavy bedding are associated with SIDS.
Do not over-dress your baby for bed and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for you. Excess clothing and overheating may increase the risk for SIDS.
Breastfeed your baby if possible. Breast milk decreases the incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Studies show that breastfed babies have a lower SIDS rate than formula-fed babies.
Avoid exposing your baby to people with respiratory infections. Carefully clean anything that comes in contact with your baby. Have people wash their hands before holding or playing with your baby. SIDS often occurs in association with relatively minor respiratory and gastrointestinal infections (vomiting and diarrhea).
Consider using home monitoring systems (apnea/bradycardia monitors) if you have a high-risk infant.
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