SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
SIDS most commonly occurs between the ages of 2 and 4 months, the majority of deaths happen in the winter months, and boys are more likely to die from SIDS than girls. SIDS cannot be predicted or prevented by parents or doctors. When a baby dies, there appears to be no pain or suffering, and death occurs very rapidly during sleep.
No one knows what causes SIDS. Medical researchers have identified a number of possible risk factors such as smoking by the mother, low birth weight, lack of prenatal care, drug use and births to young mothers. However, most children with these risk factors will not be affected by SIDS.
The medical community has identified a number of things parents can do to possibly reduce the risk of SIDS:
- Place baby on her back when you put her to sleep. If you have a child who has breathing problems or spits up a lot, discuss the proper sleeping position with your doctor.
- Don't smoke around baby--this means during pregnancy and after baby is born. It also means mothers, fathers and others in the home.
- Use firm bedding materials. Avoid placing baby on bean bag cushions, foam pads, and comforters that have a foam filling. Also, avoid putting baby on water beds. Babies don't need a pillow to sleep on. Instead, use a firm, flat mattress in baby's crib.
- Avoid overheating your baby, especially if he is ill. Try to keep baby's room between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't over-dress baby or use heavy bedding. You can tell if your baby is overheated if he is sweating, has damp hair, a heat rash, or rapid breathing or is restless.
- If possible, breast-feed your baby. This provides protection against infections and some immune system problems. It's also easier on many babies' stomachs.
Keep in mind, these suggestions are not a way to absolutely prevent SIDS. Remember, no one is entirely sure what causes SIDS. It occurs without warning, and two-thirds of the babies who die from SIDS have no risk factors.
If you or someone you know has experienced SIDS, there are support groups in many communities to help families deal with the sadness of losing a child.