Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has no known cause and occurs in infants less than one year old. It is also known as “crib death” because it often occurs when babies are asleep in their crib. SIDS is the leading cause of death between one month and one year with most deaths occurring before the baby reaches six months old.
Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) includes accidental suffocation, strangulation or entrapment within the baby’s crib. These are not SIDS because the cause of death can be identified. SIDS is included under SUID because it’s an unexpected death, but SIDS does not have an identified cause of death. To determine if an infant has passed away from SIDS, a full autopsy and examination of the death scene is done, along with a review of the baby’s clinical history.
Research suggests babies that have passed away from SIDS were born with brain abnormalities or defects. The abnormalities likely occur within the neurons that use serotonin as a neurotransmitter and are located in the part of the brain that controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and waking from sleep. Currently there is no test or screening to determine an abnormality in this part of the brain, but researchers are working to develop them.
Help Decrease the Risk of SIDS
Be aware of products that claim to prevent SIDS; no product can guarantee this. The best way to decrease the risk of SIDS is to provide babies with a safe sleep environment. Here are some tips:
- No soft objects in the crib
- No toys
- No crib bumpers
- No loose bedding under, over or around baby (or in the crib at all)
- Dress infant in snug-fitting pajamas
- Share a room with your baby for the first six months, but ideally first year
- Always lay babies on their backs for sleep and naps
Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development