Save Your Baby From Sudden Infant Death Syndrome


The arrival of a baby is marked with a note of extreme happiness in all kith and kin. When you become a mother or father, everything starts changing in your life. When you hold your baby for the first time, it is simply a wonderful feeling. Probably, there can be nothing greater than this. Raising a child is one of the toughest yet pleasurable experiences in the world. However, imagine one day, when you open your eyes in the morning and you see your baby is showing mischievous symptoms and departures from life. Seems dreadful… Large number of babies dies before the age of 1 due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is when a baby of 12 months or younger dies during sleep with no warning signs or a clear reason. It strikes without signs of suffering. Most deaths due to SIDS occur between 2 to 4 months of age and incidence increases during cold weather. It is the leading cause of death among infants. According to studies, it is said that boys are more prone to the syndrome than girls.

More research evidence suggests that infants who die from SIDS are born with brain abnormalities or defects. These defects are found within a network of nerve cells that send signals to other nerve cells. The cells are located in the part of the brain that usually controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and waking from sleep. Scientists have been researching for so long but till now, there is no way to identify babies who have these abnormalities.

Medical science has been trying to search the exact symptoms of SIDS and concluded that several risk factors when combined can contribute to cause sudden infant death syndrome. Risk factors include:

  • Premature birth or low birth weight 
  • poor prenatal care
  • Overheating from excessive sleepwear and bedding
  • Smoking, drinking, or drug intake by mother during pregnancy
  • Female giving birth at very young age (below 20)
  • Tobacco or  smoke exposure to infant
  • Stomach sleeping

There are few precautions you can take to prevent your child from the risk of SIDS. Follow the below measures to help prevent SIDS:

Take Care of Baby’s Metris or Bed

Place your baby on a firm mattress to sleep, never on a pillow, couch, or other soft surface. Also, do not put blankets, stuffed toys, or pillows near the baby as they can lead to suffocation. The baby’s crib should be fitted with cotton sheets and ensure that your baby can breathe and move easily.

Don't Smoke During Pregnancy or Even After

If you smoke, stop before you get pregnant because it is a major risk factor for SIDS. Babies born to women who smoked during pregnancy die from SIDS three times more often than babies born to nonsmoker women. Besides this, passive smoking also increases the chances of SIDS. So, don’t let anyone smoke around your baby.

Breastfeed for at least One Year 

Breastfeed your baby as long as you can because it reduces the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. It contains necessary anti bodies that protect baby from infections and illness. A mother has to be very cautious about her diet while breastfeeding. Quit alcohol and other drugs when breastfeeding as it raises your baby’s risk of SIDS.

Don’t let your Baby sleep on his Stomach

According to research, stomach sleeping is one of the major factors of SIDS. Some research shows that stomach sleeping puts pressure on a child's jaw, therefore narrowing the airway and hampering breathing.

Secondly, stomach sleeping can increase an infant's risk of "rebreathing" his or her own exhaled air, especially if the baby is sleeping on a soft mattress, stuffed toys, or a pillow near the face. As the baby breathes exhaled air, the oxygen level in the body decreases and carbon dioxide accumulates and lack of oxygen could contribute to SIDS.

Immunize Your Baby

Immunization after birth is very essential to protect a baby from killing diseases. Vaccination can reduce the number of infections by more than 90%. It lowers the risk of SIDS compared with babies who aren’t fully immunized.

Check Heating Levels Around your Baby

Make sure your baby does not get too warm while sleeping. Avoid putting extra clothes and blankets on your baby. Do not use heaters rather keep the room temperature moderate between 21 to 26 degree Celsius. If you are worried about your baby staying warm, dress him/her in pajamas and T-shirts that cover arms, legs, hands, and feet, or place him/her in a "sleep sack" (a wearable blanket). But don't use a regular blanket as your baby can get tangled in it or pull the blanket over his face which may lead to breathing problem or choking.

Avoid Feeding Preserved Food to your Baby

Most preserved foods can lead to botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. It may be linked to SIDS. The bacteria enter the body by eating improperly canned or preserved food. It includes food such as canned vegetables, cured pork and ham, smoked or raw fish and honey or corn syrup.

Do not Keep your Sleeping Baby in Your Bed

Keep your baby’s bed near your bed but it's dangerous for a baby to sleep with parents in the same bed. It is always advisable to put the baby in his/her own crib or bed when he/she sleeps. This leads to easy breathing, enough air around the baby and cross ventilation, thus helps protect baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Nourish your baby with extraordinary care. If you notice any warning signs, immediately consult the child specialist, do not treat yourself. Gain complete knowledge about SIDS and its prevention from doctor so as to keep your baby safe and happy.

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This blog was first published in Feb 2016