Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS or the older term, Crib Death, is described as an unexpected death of a healthy infant which yields little to no results during an autopsy to determine a cause of death. SIDS usually occurs when the infant is asleep and happens more frequently with boys than girls. SIDS comes with no warning signs which makes it incredibly difficult to prepare or watch for.
Most infants that die of SIDS are between the age of 2 to 4 months old although in rare instances, infants as young as 1 month old or over 6 months of age have been known to die from SIDS.
A study conducted and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November of 2006, reported that infants who died of SIDS had abnormalities in the brain stem which is responsible for helping to control involuntary functions such as breathing, blood pressure and arousal as well as abnormalities in Serotonin signaling. British researchers in 2008 also released information from a study conducted that infants who died from SIDS were also suspected to have higher amounts of Staph bacteria and infection as well as E.Coli bacteria and infection which occurred right at the age of 8 to 10 week after birth when the infants antibodies passed on by the mother taper off at the beginning stages of antibody development in the infant.
Other external post-natal risks are listed below.
Low birth weight
Sleeping on the stomach
Not being breastfed
Too many blankets, pillows or stuffed animals and toys that can create a suffocation hazard
Exposure to second hand smoke from parents
Siblings that have died from SIDS
Many women who had heavy usage of tobacco or drugs during pregnancy are also an indicating factor among several other prenatal risk factors that are listed below.
Inadequate prenatal nutrition
Multiple births within a short period of time, births very close apart
Infant being overweight
Mother being overweight
Placental abnormalities such as Placental Previa
It is also important to receive immediate medical care for those who are in the early stages of pregnancy to ensure a healthy fetal development so that in the event there are risks or developmental issues, proper care can be administered.
It has been recommended to place a sleeping infant on their back with a moderate room temperature and fewer pillows, blankets or toys that can increase suffocation. It is also recommended to keep the infant in a smoke free environment. If parents smoke, it is best to smoke only outside the home to prevent breathing difficulties for the infant. Having a firm mattress instead of softer beds such as bean bags, air mattresses or waterbeds decrease the risk of suffocation.
Parents are also encouraged to keep their babies nearby while they sleep but have their own space for them such as a crib or bassinet and monitor them frequently.