SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants from 1 month to 1 year old and claims about 2,500 lives every year in the United States. The first step in helping prevent this unfortunate and frightening experience is awareness. We want to help educate you to make sure you are taking all the right steps towards prevention. Although there have been years of research on SIDS, it still remains unpredictable.
One of the most important ways to reduce the risk of SIDS is to make sure that infants younger than 1 year are placed on their backs to sleep and never face down on their stomachs. This helps safeguard that their airway is open and that there is not any pressure on their lungs.
Research shows that there is not one particular risk factor involved with SIDS, rather, several combined which may add up to an unsafe environment for the baby.
Some of the risks that can contribute to SIDS:
- The use of drugs, tobacco or alcohol during the time of pregnancy
- Lack of proper prenatal care
- A baby born premature and/or with an abnormally low birth weight
- Mothers who are in their younger years, namely 20 and under
- Exposure to cigarette or tobacco smoke following birth when the babies' lungs are extremely sensitive
- Temperature changes, including overheating from sleepwear or excessive bedding in the crib
- The child sleeping on his stomach
One of the most common and foremost risk factors associated with SIDS is stomach sleeping. There have been many studies that have shown SIDS occuring often among babies who are sleeping on their stomach versus their backs.
In addition to a narrowed airway to breathe, if the baby is on his stomach and has an obstructed area to breathe, a baby may experience “rebreathing.” Rebreathing is the act of breathing one's own exhaled air, which will eventually over time cause the body to have higher levels of carbon dioxide and lower levels of oxygen, which could also cause SIDS.
Parents have feared that having a baby sleep on her back could cause her to choke on spit or possibly vomit, however research has shown that there has not been any sort of increased risk for babies who are healthy that sleep on their backs.
Putting children to sleep for extended periods may also pose harm as they could potentially roll over onto their stomach while they are asleep, causing possible obstruction of their breathing.
Some Tips on How to Reduce the Chances of SIDS:
Never have the baby sleep on a pillow or other soft surface. Make sure the mattress is firm and that there are no toys or objects in the crib that could obstruct breathing.
- Do not use bumper pads in your baby’s crib as they could cause breathing issues.
- Keep the room your baby sleeps in at room temperature and be sure that the only thing inside the crib is your baby. A baby that gets too warm is at higher risk for SIDS.
- Do not smoke, drink, or do drugs anytime near your baby as these chemicals and toxins have extreme effects on a baby’s health.