October is SIDS Awareness Month and hopefully everyone will take notice. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between the ages of one month to one year in the United States and African American and Native American infants are affected two to three times the national average. Twenty percent more cases of SIDS are found in child care settings and boys are affected more often than girls. Most infants affected are between the ages of 2 and 4 months and die between midnight and 6 AM. The good news is that the number of SIDS cases has decreased by greater than 50 percent when the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended placing infants on their back for sleep in 1992. Although there is no singular cause of SIDS research has suggested that it has a possible genetic component and underlying brain abnormalities. Also, placing an infant in a face-down position for sleep increases the risk of SIDS tremendously.
Who is at risk for developing SIDS?
- Infants of teen moms
- Infants of mothers who had late, little or no prenatal care
- Infants of mothers who smoke
- Preterm or premature infants
- Low birth weight infants
- Infants who sleep on their face
- Infants who are overdressed or overheated
- Infants of alcoholic mothers
- Infants who sleep on soft surfaces
How can SIDS be reduced or prevented?
- Keep your infant’s crib in your room for the first six months but avoid sleeping with the infant in bed
- Do not allow infants to sleep in a chair, sofa or any other type of cushioned chair alone
- Have infants sleep on a firm surface on their back and remove soft objects such as pillows, quilts, stuffed animals, comforters or loose blankets
- Keep infant’s head uncovered and avoid overheating by keeping him or her in light clothing when asleep.
- Baby monitors, mattress wraps and other commercial devices are not recommended because of lack of sufficient testing
- Avoid smoking and exposing the infant to cigarette smoke
- Avoid sheepskin bedding
By using these preventive strategies, pregnant moms help reduce the chances of their babies developing SIDS. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.
Do you know how to anticipate and manage the unexpected events that could occur during your pregnancy? You will if you purchase The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy available on Amazon.com or wherever books are sold.