Idaho CareLine: 800-926-2588
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation. SIDS is the major killer of babies between one week and one-year-old. SIDS takes the life of about one of every 1,000 babies born in America.
Any sudden, unexpected death threatens one's sense of safety and security. This is particularly true in a sudden infant death. Quite simply, babies are not supposed to die. Because the death of an infant is a disruption to the natural order, it is traumatic for parents, family, and friends. The lack of a discernible cause, the suddenness of the tragedy and the involvement of the legal system makes a SIDS death especially difficult, leaving a great sense of loss and a need for understanding.
This unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant is not new. SIDS is believed to have killed babies for centuries and affects all social, economic, and racial groups. However, statistics indicate African American infants are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die of SIDS than Caucasian infants, and Native American babies are approximately 3 times as likely to die of SIDS.
Most researchers believe babies who die of SIDS are born with one or more conditions that make them especially vulnerable to stresses that occur in the normal life of an infant. SIDS victims, as a group, are not the healthy infants we once thought. It appears SIDS is a result of a chronic abnormality, which originates before birth, and involves control mechanisms regulating basic body functions.
Risk factors are environmental and behavioral influences that can provoke ill health — but the risk factors in and of themselves are not causes. Researchers now know that the mother's health and behavior during her pregnancy and the baby's health before birth seem to influence the occurrence of SIDS.
Infants more at risk for SIDS include:
These factors, which often may be subtle and undetected, suggest that SIDS is somehow associated with a harmful prenatal environment.
Although the relationship between these factors and SIDS is not yet clear, refraining from smoking, eating properly, and obtaining adequate prenatal care will increase the chance for a health pregnancy outcome.
As long as its cause or causes remain unknown, sudden infant death syndrome will be a puzzle for researchers, and SIDS deaths will continue to be mysterious and tragic for parents and families. If a SIDS death has occurred in your family or a family you know, seek help and information from professionals and support groups. It is important that everyone understands the facts about SIDS and misunderstandings can be eliminated.
For copies of printed materials or for information on local support groups, contact the Idaho CareLine at 1-800-926-2588 or 1-208-332-7205 (TDD) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From: National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Resource Center, 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 600, McLean, VA 22102 (703/821-8955). The Resource Center is an affiliate of the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health and is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What SIDS Is
What SIDS Is Not
Reccomendations for Prevention
FACT: Infants born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are three times more at risk of SIDS. Exposure to passive smoke from smoking by mothers, fathers, or others in the household after pregnancy doubles a baby's risk of SIDS. Parents and child caregivers should keep infants in a smoke-free environment.
REMINDER: If your child is under one year of age, share these safety tips with your child caregiver, babysitter, or others who may care for your infant. If you know of someone expecting a baby or with a child under one year of age, share these tips with them!
*April 1999 recommendations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
The National SIDS Resource Center has an extensive article entitled Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Trying to Understand the Mystery which offers an in-depth review of research findings, the effects a SIDS death has on the parents and family of the infant, information for professionals to use in helping families, as well as information on support groups and other organizations.
The Compassionate Friends — National nonprofit, self-help support organization which offers friendship and understanding to families who are grieving the death of a child of any age, from any cause. There is no religious affiliation. There are no membership fees or dues, and all bereaved family members are welcome.
Especially for the health care provider . . . SIDS: Counseling Parents to Reduce the Risk — published by the American Family Physician, this article indicates that through patient education, family physicians can further reduce the incidence of the number one cause of death in infants one week to one-year-old.