All you need to know about sudden infant death syndrome (Sids)

By Drum Digital
21 July 2014

Placing your baby in bed with you may seem like an easy way to feed and change them at night, but are you aware of the risks? New research shows younger babies are more likely to die when sharing beds with their parents, the first indication that risks for sudden infant death syndrome (Sids) may vary with the age of the infant.

Placing your baby in bed with you may seem like an easy way to feed and change them at night but are you aware of the risks? New research shows that younger babies are more likely to die when sharing beds with their parents, the first indication that risks for sudden infant death syndrome (Sids) may vary with the age of the infant.

Likewise, as tempting as it seems to place pillows and toys in the cot with older infants this also places them at risk of Sids.  According to Dr Rachel Moon, associate chief of Children's National Medical Centre’s division of general paediatrics and community health in Washington, DC, in the US, 70 percent of Sids deaths occurred in babies who were sharing a bed at the time of their death. An object, such as a blanket or a pillow, was found in babies' beds in about one-third of the deaths.

Young babies don't have the ability to move their heads or bodies to avoid being suffocated when another person moves in the same bed, the study noted. “The most dangerous objects are the soft, cushiony items – pillows, bumper pads and blankets,” Moon says. “These increase the risk for Sids and are also associated with accidental suffocation. We recommend that nothing be in the crib except for the baby.”

Understanding Sids

The term Sids was coined by American anaesthesiologist and researcher Dr Bruce Beckwith in 1969 after years of research. The condition causes unexpected death of an otherwise well infant and is the most common cause of death in infants between one week and one year of age. Male infants and infants with a low birth weight are believed to be at higher risk of Sids.

Studies on infants who’ve been resuscitated from episodes show they have poorly developed control of their breathing.  During sleep an infant’s breathing tends to be shallow, is irregular and is prone to pauses called apnoea. Apnoea itself is believed to be the most common mechanism of death in infants, along with slowing of the heart, lack of oxygen and lowered blood pressure.

How to keep your baby safe during sleep time

  • From birth place baby on their back not on the tummy or side.
  • Always keep baby’s head and face uncovered.
  • Keep baby away from smoke before birth and after.
  • For the first six to 12 months, sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult.
  • Breastfeed baby.

When baby stops breathing

First touch or nudge your baby to see if they respond. If they don't, administer CPR and get someone to call an ambulance. If you’re alone first administer CPR for two minutes before calling an ambulance, then resume. Note that if your baby’s forehead turns blue they may be in danger.

-Asa Sokopo

Sources: webmd.com, health24.com, sidsandkids.org, babycenter.com

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