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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, more commonly known as SIDS, is the unexplained and sudden death of a baby under one year of age. For babies one month to one year old, it is the most common cause of death in the United States. The highest rate of deaths from SIDS occurs in infants two to four months of age.
SIDS happens when a baby stops breathing during sleep, and though the causes of SIDS are unknown, it is likely caused by a combination of factors. That being said, there is a link between SIDS and babies exposed to cigarette smoke. Also, sleeping face down increases the risk for SIDS.
There are many things parents and caregivers can do to help avoid SIDS:
Always put babies to sleep on their backs, never on their sides or tummies.
Make sure to use a crib especially designed for babies.
Breast-feed. Studies show that breast-fed babies have a lower rate of SIDS than formula-fed babies do.
Keep all loose blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals out of babies’ cribs.
Keep crib bedding tight and not too soft.
Monitor the temperature in babies’ rooms. Babies should never be hot or sweaty while sleeping.
Give babies pacifiers. There is a link with pacifiers and a lower risk for SIDS, but babies should not be forced to take a pacifier if they do not want one.
Do not allow smoking around babies or in homes where babies live or places where they receive care.
Learn about the risk factors for SIDS
Many of the above suggestions have changed the way parents care for their sleeping babies. There has been a decrease in the number of SIDS deaths since these risk factors have become better known. According to the American SIDS Institute, the SIDS death rate is currently at an all-time low. In the past 25 years, there has been a 50 percent drop in the number of SIDS deaths each year. Unfortunately, it still occurs, and there is no way to prevent it from happening; therefore, we need to continue sharing our knowledge in order to prevent the tragedy of SIDS.