Sudden infant death syndrome affects roughly 3,500 infants every year.
It is defined as “the sudden and unexplained death of an infant who is younger than 1 year old,” and can happen without warning, seemingly for no reason.
This scary scenario usually occurs when infants are asleep in their cribs, which is why it is occasionally referred to as “crib death,” and can happen to completely healthy babies.
Though it may seem completely unpredictable, doctors at the American Academy of Pediatrics are taking steps to identify threats and reduce the likelihood of the scenario.
They even published a new report on how to better protect your baby from SIDS, which you can find below.
A major detail in the report explains that babies’ risk of SIDS is significantly lowered if they sleep in the same room as their parents for at least their first six months.
Their chances of a sudden death is reduced by up to 50 percent if they sleep in the same room — but not the same bed — as their parents until age 1.
This significantly increases the chance that parents will hear if their baby is struggling or distressed.
While in their crib, they should be sleeping on a firm surface on their back, also know as the “supine position,” in order to prevent breathing and temperature complications.
Though there are devices that claim to help prevent SIDS, like cardiorespiratory monitors and baby wedges that keep them in place, the report states to be wary of them, as they could impede breathing or prevent parents from hearing if their baby is struggling.
It’s important to note again that while the baby should be in the same room as their parents, they should be in their crib and not bed-sharing.
“Although many parents believe that they can maintain vigilance of the infant while they are asleep and bed-sharing,” the report states, “epidemiologic studies have shown that bed-sharing is associated with a number of conditions that are risk factors for SIDS, including soft bedding, head covering, and, for infants of smokers, increased exposure to tobacco smoke.”
It also states that children should be returned to their beds and proper sleeping positions after they are brought into bed for night feedings.
The supine sleep position is recommended throughout the report: “The prone or side sleep position can increase the risk of rebreathing expired gases, resulting in hypercapnia and hypoxia.”
Soft bedding, crib bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys can inhibit this ideal position or cause the baby breathing distress.
It also says to be wary of having your child fall asleep in car seats, on couches, or in cushy strollers too frequently as this can also obstruct their delicate little airways.
However, the AAP promotes children being awake on their stomachs. “Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended to facilitate development and to minimize development,” the report reads.
They also strongly advocate for pacifier usage: “Multiple case-control studies and 2 meta-analyses have reported a protective effect of pacifiers on the incidence of SIDS, particularly when used at the time of the last sleep period, with decreased risk of SIDS ranging from 50% to 90%.”
Though it is unclear what exactly makes them so effective, the AAP recommends offering them to your baby at nighttime and bedtime to severely cut down the risk of SIDS.
Smoking and drinking also negatively affects a baby’s environment.
Since babies are still developing a rhythm in their airways, helping them breathe openly and normally is high priority in stopping SIDS.
Secondhand smoke can potentially obstruct their airways and make it even more difficult for their delicate lungs to work.
So the report recommends that parents refrain from smoking around their children and engaging in illicit substances.
They also favor practices such as breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with a new baby, though it is worth stating again that babies should be returned to their open, empty cribs after night feedings.
“Skin-to-skin care is recommended for all mothers and newborns, regardless of feeding or delivery method, immediately following birth (as soon as the mother is medically stable, awake, and able to respond to her newborn), and to continue for at least an hour,” the report sates.
Though SIDS may seem scary and unpredictable, doctors and pediatricians can offer plenty of advice on how to prevent it.
Keeping your baby safe, happy, and breathing takes a lot of attention, but will definitely help him or her build a strong, resilient body.
What do you think of the report’s details? You can read it in full with even more info and advice here.
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