Crib death : Sudden infant death syndrome

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

The cause for SIDS remains unknown. Some experts attribute it to brain abnormalities that are responsible for sleep and arousal from sleep.

Researchers have also defined a set of risk factors for SIDS :

  1. Place your child on the back while it sleeps. Sleeping sideways may be risky as the airway may get blocked due to the baby turning face-down or on the stomach.
  2. Babies who are born prematurely or are part of a twin, triplet, or more, do not always have well-developed brains. In such cases, control over heart rate and breathing is difficult and the infant needs to be taken extra care of.
  3. Respiratory infections in newborns may lead to blocked airways and breathing troubles that could eventually lead to SIDS.
  4. Draping a blanket over the baby’s head is risky as sometimes the blanket may be pulled over the face causing a block to the airway.
  5. Keeping the baby wrapped in lots of layers of clothes is a potential risk factor for SIDS.
  6. Exposure to tobacco smoke in the early months of life can be a definite risk factor.
  7. If the mother has not received good care during pregnancy, smokes or chews tobacco, and/or consumes alcohol, the chances of her baby falling prey to SIDS remain very high.

What can you do to protect your baby from SIDS?

Based on several studies all over the word, pediatricians advice certain guidelines to new parents to follow while helping their child to sleep.

  1. Always make sure your baby is sleeping on the back. Never put her on her tummy. She may roll over when she is about 5-8 months old, but by then the risk of SIDS is reduced by more than half.
  2. Do not wrap your baby in too many layers of clothing and blankets. Excessive heat can be a cause for SIDS.
  3. When in the crib or on bed, avoid using positioners to keep the baby in place. They can cause stifling and suffocation.
  4. Sleep in the same room as your baby, but avoid having the baby in your bed.
  5. Do not keep your baby in prams, car seats, bouncy seats, infant strollers for long times, especially if your infant is less than 4 months old. The baby rolls its head forwards which can lead to suffocation. If your baby has fallen asleep in its position, gently lay him on his back so he can sleep better.
  6. Keep your baby away from smokes and fumes of all kinds.
  7. Breastfeed your baby for a minimum of six months.
  8. Take proper care during your pregnancy.

Taking care of a newborn fragile baby is a huge risk. Sometimes in the excitement and eagerness, one tends to get a little carried away. Always listen to what your doctors and elders advise you.

Everyone wants to do their best for their baby, but keep in mind not to overdo it.

Always put your baby to sleep on its back. Sleeping on the tummy or sideways is a huge risk for SIDS!