What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Updated at: Apr 30, 2012
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): The syndrome leading to death of an infant is referred to as unexpected by medical history and remains unexplained after forensic autopsy.

Himanshu Sharma
Newborn CareWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Mar 14, 2012

What is Sudden Infant Death SyndromeSudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is one of the most frightening situations before parents, which is observed in infant between the age of 1 month and 1 year. Despite of years of research, causes and prevention of the syndrome remains undiscovered. However, it has been observed that few precautionary measures can help in reducing risk of SIDS to a significant level.

An infant is at higher risk for SIDS when asleep, therefore, sometimes ascribed as cot death or crib death syndrome. Causes of SIDS are unknown, although certain characteristics of the syndrome have been identified. Therefore, several risk factors are combines to cause deaths in infants. More deaths have been observed between 2 and 4 months of age, which further gets a boost during cold weather conditions. Furthermore, more deaths of boys have been reported than girls due to the SIDS.

Signs and Symptoms of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

One of the most identifiable attributes of this feared infant syndrome is that it doesn’t affect baby immediately after birth, but lingers on till the fatal stage. There are certain signs that are believed to be the plausible causes of the syndrome.
Researches have indicated that common bacterial infections like Staphylococcus Aureus (staph) and Escherichia Coli (E. coli) could cause sudden infant death syndrome. Among other possible reasons causing SIDS are bed sharing, brain disorders, central respiratory pattern deficiency, cervical spinal injury and genetic disorders.

Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

As per guidelines issued by American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP), the following measures can help in preventing sudden infant death syndrome.

  1. Be it night sleep or a nap, do not leave baby to sleep on its stomach. Furthermore, side sleeping is also an unstable sleeping position that should be avoided.
  2. Making them sleep in a crib reduced the risk of SIDS to a significant level.
  3. Soft bedding material should be avoided, with babies being placed on a firm, tight-fitting crib mattress. One can use light sheet to cover up the infant, although using pillows, comforters, or quilts will add to the vows.
  4. Maintain a moderate room temperature. Make sure that the infant is not hot to touch.
  5. Pacifiers at naptime and bedtime reduces SIDS risk as it allows opening of airway and prevents prevent baby from a deep sleep.
  6. Smoke-free environment is another preventative measure.
  7. Breastfeeding the infant is adviced, which reduces level of respiratory infections and also the curb of SIDS.
  8. Honey should not be fed to infant less than 12 months, as it causes botulism.


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