How to Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Sids

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

As the name implies, SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of seemingly healthy babies younger than 1 year old. Despite years of research and numerous studies into the phenomenon, SIDS remains unpredictable and unpreventable.

In recent months, incidents of infant death some due to SIDS have seemed strangely higher than average in Kerrville and surrounding areas. Left in the wake of each shocking incident is a multitude of unanswered questions, grief and concern that the unexplainable terror might happen again.

Part of what makes SIDS so frightening is a lack of information. While most diseases are diagnosed by their symptoms, SIDS is identified by a process of exclusion. After all other possibilities are ruled out and the cause of an infant death still cannot be determined, SIDS often is blamed.

“Very little is known about it,” said Georgette Robbins, nurse manager of the Women’s Health Unit at Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital. “The best form of prevention really is being educated and aware and making sure your baby’s environment is as safe as possible.”

SIDS sometimes called crib death strikes nearly 5,000 babies in the United States every year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. While doctors and nurses don’t know what causes SIDS, they have developed some guidelines that, if followed, can lower your baby’s risk factors.

One of the most widely known and effective precautions a parent can take is to put their healthy baby on his or her back to sleep. While proof of the effectiveness of such practices is limited, researchers have suggested that stomach sleeping puts pressure on the child’s jaw, which narrows the airway and may obstruct breathing. Incidents of SIDS have dropped by 43 percent since 1992, when the AAP began its “Back to Sleep” campaign, recommending that all healthy infants younger than 1 years old be put to sleep on their backs.

It’s important that parents put their babies to bed correctly from day one, because how you put your baby to rest is a matter of habit for both parents and their babies, Robbins said. Some babies at first won’t like sleeping on their backs, but if parents are consistent, their babies will get comfortable and come to prefer sleeping that way.

“It may be uncomfortable at first, but babies know nothing else and will get use to sleeping that way,” she said.

“Parents especially shouldn’t let their babies sleep in bed with them,” Robbins added. “It’s tempting when they’re young. You’re tired and they’re tired, and you want to keep them close, but it’s not safe.”

While back sleeping is the most recommended, side positions, also are approved, Robbins said. However, if you choose to put your baby to sleep on his side, the AAP suggests making sure your baby’s lower arm is forward to prevent him from rolling over onto his stomach. Robbins added that parents should purchase the appropriate bed wedges to provide support.

According to the National Institute of child Health and Human Development, SIDS is the leading cause of infant death. Incidence of SIDS is greatest in infants younger than 6 months. More boys than girls are victims, and incidents increase during cold weather. Potential risk factors include: smoking, drinking or drug use during pregnancy, poor prenatal care, prematurity or low birth-weight, mothers younger than 20 and smoke exposure following birth.