Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month Is Time To Tackle A Tough Topic

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Losing a child is every parent’s biggest fear, whether that child is a newborn or a fully grown adult. Infant deaths may be the most heartbreaking, especially if there’s no clear-cut event or condition that gave a warning that something adverse might be going on.

SIDS Awareness Month

That’s why Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, Awareness Month is so important for providers, parents and caregivers. This is the time to dig into all the ways that children can be cared for in order to prevent SIDS, which is defined as the unexpected death of a child under one year old, without an obvious cause of death before investigation.

About 3,600 infants died of SIDS or other sleep-related deaths in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control, and it’s the leading cause of death for infants between one month and one year of age. Here are some additional statistics about SIDS, which call into relief why awareness and prevention are so vital:

  • Most SIDS deaths occur in babies between 1 month and 4 months of age, and the majority (90% percent) of SIDS deaths occur before a baby reaches 6 months of age.
  • SIDS is a sudden and silent medical disorder that can happen to an infant who seems healthy.
  • SIDS is sometimes called "crib death" or "cot death" because it is associated with the time when the baby is sleeping. Cribs themselves don't cause SIDS, but the baby's sleep environment can influence sleep-related causes of death.
  • Slightly more boys die of SIDS than do girls.

To combat SIDS, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics developed the  Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP®). It teaches an evidence-based approach to newborn care and facilitates effective team-based care for healthcare professionals who care for newborns at the time of delivery.

SIDS Prevention Requires Wraparound Effort

The NRP is targeted toward healthcare workers, but there’s plenty that parents can do as well. In fact, they are the child’s first line of defense. Here are a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Place a baby on his or her backin bed. Make sure to do this at all times. It’s a common mistake that parents think placing a child on their back to sleep may cause them to choke on spit-up, but their gag reflex will wake them up and stop them from choking. If a child sleeps on their stomach, they are more likely to breathe in less air.
  • Use a firm sleep surface,like a mattress in a safety-approved crib. Put a tightly fitted sheet over the mattress. It’s very important to keep toys, even cuddly teddy bears, out of the crib while the infant sleeps. The less that’s in the crib, the less chance there is of suffocation when a baby is rolling around in their sleep.
  • Share your room,but not your bed.Even though it may be tempting to snuggle all night, accidental suffocation and strangulation can happen quite easily if you share a bed. Sharing a bed may increase the chance of SIDS by about 50 percent.
  • Dress a baby in cozy sleep clothing instead of using a blanket.
  • Do not allow smokingaround your baby. Smoke in an infant’s surroundings is a major risk factor for SIDS.

More than anything, take the opportunity Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month provides to educate yourself, and your patients, about how to avoid anything crib- and environment related that could imperil a child’s life. Sometimes baby steps are all that’s needed.

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