Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) affects thousands of babies annually. About 1500 babies died due to SIDS in the US in 2013 alone. However, there has been a recent decrease in the number of deaths due to SIDS. A study has discovered that sleep environment and other factors play a role in the recent decrease in SIDS deaths.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden, unexpected, death of a baby younger than one year old. Cause of death in most cases is undetermined, even after a thorough investigation (a complete autopsy, inspection of scene of death, and review of health history). SIDS is a fast acting disorder that happens in seemingly healthy babies when they’re sleeping, so sleep environment is a major factor in SIDS. Since it’s closely linked to sleep-related causes of death, sleep environment can be a starting cause. Making sure a baby’s surroundings are safe when it’s sleeping can reduce the risk of SIDS. For example, placing a sleeping baby on its back will help create a safe sleep setting and prevent SIDS.
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A sleep environment that puts an infant at risk is one that contains unnecessary objects located near a sleeping infant. In order to reduce SIDS, one should separate soft objects like stuffed animals and pillows from sleeping babies. Other factors of an unsafe sleep setting include the infant sharing a bed with others, sleeping on an adult bed, couch (regardless whether alone or not), and parents not sleeping in the same room as the child. But despite all aspects that may be responsible for SIDS, there actually has been a decrease in the number of deaths in recent years.
There are various reasons for the drop in SIDS. One main cause is education. Other factors include better neonatal and prenatal care, fewer teen pregnancies, reduced rates of maternal smoking during pregnancy, and an increase in breast feeding. All these actions reduced the risk and number of SIDS, as seen in a study’s results.
The study at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute analyzed 30 years worth of data and suggested that the Back-to-Sleep campaign (aka “Safe to Sleep“) was responsible for the death decrease for SIDS cases; it has informed parents of SIDS and how to prevent it from happening. Parents’ exposure to information contributed to the reduction of deaths. This is evident in the historical drop in the number of SIDS deaths in the US: in 1994, 4,073 infants died from SIDS while in 1999 only 2,643 died. Although safe sleep environments are a crucial factor associated with the recent reduction of SIDS, many other factors are likely causes as well.
Feature Image Source: 20111112-Shaliness 28- novembre 12, 2011 by Harriette Earnshaw