SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. As its very name suggests, SIDS refers to an unexpected death of an infant, with no known health problems or outside injury. At the same time, it is characterized by an unexplained cause of death, even after conducting a scrupulous forensic autopsy and a comprehensive investigation of the death scene. In simple words, there is no understandable reason behind the death of the child, who is between one month and one year of age. This syndrome is also known by the name of cot death, especially in United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, India, South Africa and New Zealand.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is characterized by the very fact that it does not have a known cause. Infact, SIDS is not only sudden and unexpected, but also unexplainable. An infant is declared to have been a victim of this syndrome only when the cause of death remains unexplained even after an adequate postmortem investigation has been performed. The investigation usually includes an autopsy; examination of the scene as well as circumstances of death; and analysis of the medical history of the infant as well as his/her family. However, the following conditions are believed to contribute to SIDS.
- Smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy
- Poor prenatal care
- Premature delivery
- Low birth-weight
- Mother being younger than 20 years
- Exposure to tobacco smoke, after birth
- Overheating, because of excessive sleepwear and bedding
- Stomach sleeping, leading to suffocation
While there is no known causes behind SIDS, parents are advised to take some precautions before as well as after the birth of the baby, to prevent such an occurrence. Let us explore them in detail.
- Throughout the pregnancy, the expectant mother should go for regular checkups and eat a healthy diet.
- The expectant mother should stay away from tobacco, cigarette, cocaine, and heroin. Even passive smoking is to be avoided.
- There should be a gap of at least one year between the birth of a child and the next pregnancy of the mother.
- Rather than stomach or side, make your infant sleep on his/her back, to avoid any chances of suffocation.
- Always choose a hard mattress and light covering for the baby. There should be no covers, pillows, bumper pads, positioning devices or toys in his/her crib.
- Make your baby sleep with you till the time he/she is six months old. Keep his/her cot in your room.
- Keep your infant away from tobacco smoke. If someone has to smoke, ask him/her to go outside.
- Breastfeed your baby as much as possible and for as long as possible. Breast milk reduces chances of respiratory & gastrointestinal infections.
- Never ever make your baby wear too many clothes. You only need to put on enough clothes to keep him/her warm and not overstuff him/her.
- In case of any periods of not breathing, going limp, turning blue or gagging excessively after spitting up, in the baby, consult your doctor immediately.