Sudden infant death syndrome

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or Crib Death or SIDS (derived from the English word for ""Sudden Infant Death Syndrome""), is not a disease. Rather, it is a diagnosis when a seemingly healthy baby dies under the age of one without warning (Creery and Mikrogianakis 2006).

If physicians can not identify a definitive cause of death in a follow-up examination, including an autopsy and family bias, they call it Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Creery and Mikrogianakis 2006). Sadly, in Germany, just over 300 babies die quickly and unexpectedly each year (Babyhilfe 2005, 11). Although SCD has been reduced by two thirds through prevention campaigns since 1991, it remains the leading cause of death in children under the age of one (Babyhilfe 2005, 11).

What triggers Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Nobody knows that exactly, but it's being researched worldwide and the puzzle continues to grow daily. What has been found so far? Sudden infant death seems to be a combination of factors - many events have to happen simultaneously.

One cause is assumed to be a physical deviation, presumably in the brain (Kahn and Groswasser 2003). This could expose the baby's breathing or the regulation of blood pressure in the body. Another possibility is that there is a developmental disorder (proper breathing and blood pressure regulation are not as well developed as they should be).

If babies with any of these problems now find themselves in situations that are difficult for breathing or circulation - for example, if they sleep on their stomach, inhale carbon dioxide (CO2) or cigarette smoke, or lower their blood pressure as they sleep - then that's their life in danger. Some of the causes of sudden infant death syndrome are now known.

Defect in the Brain

A medical study has found a deviation in the brainstem in babies who have died of SIDS. The defect was in the region that controls the perception of carbon dioxide. When the baby sleeps face down, carbon dioxide can form between the baby's face and the mattress, and the baby inhales the deadly gas. Most of them wake up when the CO2 level in the blood becomes dangerously high. But unfortunately not all (Sprott 2004).

Problems in Blood Pressure Regulation

Other researchers have focused on the ability of the brain to compensate for a drop in blood pressure (Deeg et al 2001). This happens automatically during sleep.The experts suspect that some babies can not cope with such a sudden fall in blood pressure. The cause could be found again in the brain stem or in other brain regions. The problem is the inability to maintain the blood supply to vital organs (such as the heart). Breathing does not matter. Sleeping on your back can help some babies better balance a drop in blood pressure.

Which babies carry the greatest risk?

All babies under the age of one are potentially at risk because at this age, physicians can not detect the aforementioned physical defects. But some children are at a higher risk of dying the crib death than most. Experts have found out some features.

Every baby has a higher risk of:

sleeping on the belly (Blair 2006)

born to early (before the 37th week) (GP Notebook nd)

  • with low birth weight came (less than 2500g) (GP Notebook nd)
  • male. Sixty percent of the children who died of SIDS were boys (FSID 2006).
  • was born as a twin or multipleling (GP Notebook undat)
  • has a mother who smokes or used drugs during pregnancy or was not yet 20 years old during her first pregnancy
  • parents who smoke
  • was born of a mother who had bad or no prenatal care
  • gets only milk formula from the bottle (there are a number of proofs that still-babies have a lower risk)
  • is a child's sibling, that died of SIDS (GP Notebook undated)
  • is currently in a life-threatening condition such as respiratory distress
  • At what age is the greatest risk?
  • Sudden infant death occurs most often between the third and fourth month and 90 percent of all cases occur in the first half year. The crib death usually comes in the sleep (but not always!) Usually between 10 o'clock in the evening and 10 o'clock in the morning. It is especially common in winter (Trowitzsch, 1992).

How can I keep my baby's risk low?

You can do some things to reduce the risk to your baby, but there's no way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Here are the key actions:

Lay your baby in the supine position for sleeping

. This is the first and most important step you can take to protect your baby. Even lying on your side (with one arm outstretched so it can not roll on his face) is even better than prone (Blair 2006). Researchers have shown that sleeping on the stomach doubles the risk (Jorch 1991). Also, place the child close to the end of the bed with your feet so that it does not curl up too deep into the bedding. If you have any questions about baby's sleep position, ask your midwife or the doctor.

Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not allow anyone else to smoke near your baby

Women who smoke during pregnancy increase their baby's risk of SIDS. Recent studies have found that the risk increases with every smoker in the household, with every inhaled cigarette and with the duration of the child's exposure to the smoke. So explain your baby's environment to the non-smoking zone (Kirsten et al 2000).

Use Firm, Flat Bedding and Keep Soft Toys Out of the Cradle

Several studies have linked soft sleeping arrangements to increased risk of SIDS. Always place your baby on a firm, flat mattress with no pillows, down comforters or sheepskin down underneath. Your baby sleeps best in a sleeping bag that can not slip over his head. Do not place stuffed animals or other cuddly toys in the cradle. Water beds, bean bags and other soft surfaces offer little security.

Sudden infant death occurs most often between the third and fourth month and 90 percent of all cases occur in the first half year. The crib death usually comes in the sleep (but not always!) Usually between 10 o'clock in the evening and 10 o'clock in the morning. It is especially common in winter (Trowitzsch, 1992).

Avoid overheating your baby

A too warm room or too much bedding is also considered the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Keep the room temperature of babies bedroom at 18 degrees Celsius. Signs that your baby may be overheated are:

Sweat Wet Hair

  • Heat Spikes
  • Quick Breath
  • Fever
  • Feel baby's stomach or neck to check if he is too hot or cold.
  • Breastfeeding if it's Possible

Some studies show that breastfeeding lowers the risk for babies (Patient UK, 2005). It is assumed that you breastfeed for at least three months. However, this effect could not be proven in all studies (Blair 2006).

Take Preventive Surveys with Your Baby

Babies who have all received their vaccines are at less risk of Sudden Infant Deaths (Vennemann 2007). If your baby is not feeling well, seek medical advice immediately.

Give Your Baby a Pacifier

Several studies show that babies who fall asleep with a pacifier have a significantly lower risk of morbid death (Blair 2006). A recent publication in the prestigious British Medical Journal states that the risk is reduced by 90 percent! It is believed that the pacifiers prevent the children from cutting off the air supply. In addition, the large handle of the ""Nuckis"" could make sure that the children do not turn their faces into the pad. The scientists also assume that sucking on the pacifier improves the development of the pathways in the brain stem.

Does it help against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome if I take my child to bed with me?

Some experts believe that co-sleeping (when your baby sleeps in your bed) leads to fewer cases of sudden infant death syndrome. This assumption is based on a study showing that co-sleeping changes the sleep habits of you and your baby (making sleep easier) and allows mothers to respond more quickly to their baby's movements and changes in their breathing. But no study really proves that sleeping in a family bed lowers the risk. On the contrary - a recent study proves that babies under 8 weeks are even more at risk! It is best to place the baby's cradle next to the parental bed and not take the baby until it is over six months old.

In no case should you bring the baby to yourself if you have drunk alcohol. Even when taking a nap together on the sofa, you are at an increased risk - if you get tired, then put the baby in his cradle or baby carrier before.

Where can I get more information?

The Joint Parent Initiative Sudden Infant Death Disease, GEPS, operates the website www. sids. de. Alternatively, there is also information at www. baby sleeping. de. There you also get contact with affected parents. You can also ask your midwife or your doctor for further information.


Babyhilfe 2005. Babyhilfe Deutschland e. V ... Proceedings ""Safe Baby Sleep - Prevention of Sudden Infant Death in Germany"" 2nd Nationwide Expert and Training Conference Dresden 4. -6. 2. 2005

as pdf [as of September 2008]

AAP. 2005.

The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome: diagnostic coding shifts, controversies regarding the sleeping environment, and new variables to consider in reducing risk.

American Academy of Pediatrics. www. guideline. gov [January 2007] Blair 2006. Blair PS, Ward Platt M, Smith IJ, Fleming PJ. 2006. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and time of death: factors associated with night-time and day-time deaths. International Journal of Epidemiology

35 (6): 1563-1569 Creery D, Mikrogianakis A. 2006. Sudden infant death syndrome

. www. clinicalevidence. com [as of January 2007] Deeg et al., 2001. Deeg, K.H. et al Hypoperfusion of Brainstem by Compression of Vertebral Arteries on Head Rotation - A Cause of SIDS?

Results of Doppler sonographic screening on 3840 neonates , Klin Padiatr 2001; 213: 124-133

Department of Health. 2005. Reduce the risk of cot death

. www. ie. gov. uk [as of January 2007] FSID. 2005. Baby Zone

. www. fsid. org. uk [as of January 2007] FSID. 2006a. Facts and figures

. www. fsid. org. uk [as of January 2007] FSID. 2007. New dummy advice for parents

. [As of June 2007] FSID.n. d. What is cot death?

. www. fsid. org. uk [as of January 2007] GP notebook. n. d. SIDS Risk factors

. www. GPnotebook. co. [January 2007] Hauck FR, Omojokun OO, Siadaty MS. 2005. Do Pacifiers Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? A meta-analysis. Pediatrics

116 (5): e716-23. pediatrics. aappublications. org / [as of January 2007] Jorch 1991. Jorch G, Findeisen M, Binkmann B, Trowitzsch E, We3ihrauch B: Prone and Sudden Infant Deaths Dt. Ärztebl 1991; 48: C-2343-23-46. Kahn A, Groswasser J. 2003. Sudden infant deaths: stress, arousal and SIDS.

Early Human Development

75 Suppl: S147-66

Patient UK. 2005. Breastfeeding - the benefits . www. patient. co. uk [as of January 2007]

Sprott 2004. Sprott, T. James Cot Death - Cause and Prevention . Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, Volume 14, Number 3, September 2004, pp pp. 221-232 (12)

Trowitzsch E, Jorch G, Schlüter B, Andler W: The sudden, unexpected infant death risk factors and preventive measures. Pediatrician 1992; 5: 3-6. Vennemann 2007. Vennemann, MM, Höffgen, M, Bajanowski, T, Hense, HW, Mitchell, EA: Do immunizations reduce the risk for SIDS? A meta-analysis . Vaccine. June 2007 21; 25 (26).

Wisborg K, Kesmodel U, Henriksen TB, Olsen SF, Secher NJ. 2000. A prospective study of smoking during pregnancy and SIDS.

Arch Dis Child , 83: 203-206 Show Sources Hide Sources

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