Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also know as cot death is a tragic phenomenon and is the most common cause of death in a 1 – 12 month old. 

The correct definition of SIDS is “the sudden death of an infant under one year of age, which remains unexplained after a complete postmortem examination, including an investigation of the death scene and a review of the case history”. Tragically for the parents of these victims there is no clear cause of death which only adds to the on going grief.

I think that SIDS has to be number one on the long list of parental concerns that we as parents have. It is a phenomenon that to-date has no definite conclusions to the cause but there are certain factors that increase or decrease the risk of this event, which happens when babies are sleeping. There is however a correlation between sleep positions and sleep environment.

Although cot death is the most common cause of death in babies 1 – 12 months of age, the peak risk is between 2 – 4 months of age with a dramatic decline post 6 months. 9/10 happen within the first 6 months of a babies life.

As a babies motor development kicks in, a lot of parents become anxious as they do not know how to control their babies movements during the night.  Between 4 – 5 months the rolling from back to side to front begins. Once this development starts the babies strength is greater and the chances of SIDS greatly decreases.

INCREASED RISK

  • Baby being to hot – an ideal sleeping environment is 19 degrees.
     

  • Cigarette smoke in a babies environment or smoking during pregnancy
     

  • Sleeping face down
     

  • Late or non existent prenatal care
     

  • Premature or low birth weight
     

  • Ethnic group
     

  • Boys are more at risk than girls
     

  • The seasons of Fall and Winter’
     

  • Inappropriate sleep surface – mattress or other surface is too soft for the baby
     

  • Loose bedding that can smother a babies face

DECREASED RISK

  • Back to sleep (put your baby to sleep on their back)
     

  • Feet to foot position; babies are placed at the foot of the crib so that they can not wriggle under loose bedding.
     

  • Using a Sleep sac

 

 

MYTHS

  • SIDS is not contagious
     

  • It is not caused by any other illness

The Canadian Paediatric Society made the same recommendation as the APP in the UK to Canadian parents in 2004. The policy statement ‘Recommendations for Safe Sleeping Environments for Infants and Children’.

The recommendation goes as follows – Parent should put baby to bed in a crib, bassinet or cradle that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When these guidelines were issues it was noted that some parents would still rather take their babies to bed with them – they stated the following “The recommended practice of independent sleeping will likely continue to be the preferred sleeping arrangement for infants in Canada, but a significant proportion of families will still elect to sleep together’.