Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Prevention in Phoenix, AZ
What is SIDS?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of a baby, usually between the age of 1 and 12 months. It is often referred to as crib death or cot death because the condition most often occurs when a baby is sleeping; however, the crib itself is not to blame for the infant's death.
While sudden infant death syndrome can be very frightening, there are numerous ways that you can lower the risk of its occurrence. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Phoenix who specializes in SIDS prevention, call (480) 961-2366 or contact Kevin Chan online.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Causes
While the exact causes of sudden infant death syndrome are not fully understood, certain genetic factors—including birth defects and brain abnormalities—appear to negatively impact the sections of the infant's brain that control breathing and sleep arousal. Studies suggest that a lower level of serotonin in the brainstem might make infants more vulnerable to SIDS, as this brain chemical helps to regulate breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure during sleep.
However, brain abnormalities alone do not appear to cause SIDS. There are several environmental factors that can make an infant more vulnerable to SIDS. These can include:
- Sleeping on the stomach or side, making breathing difficult
- Sleeping facedown on a soft surface, blocking the baby’s airway
- Sleeping in the same bed with the parents, causing suffocation
- Sleeping in a warm environment, causing overheating
Boys have a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome than girls do. Other risk factors include:
- Nonwhite infants
- Premature births
- Infants ages 2-4 months old
- Infants with recent respiratory infections
- Babies with relatives that died of SIDS
- Babies who are constantly exposed to second-hand smoke
An infant may also face an increased risk of suffering from sudden infant death syndrome if the mother is younger than 20 years old, smokes, or uses drugs or alcohol.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Symptoms & Treatment
There are no unique sudden infant death syndrome symptoms; it's considered dangerous for breathing to stop for more than 20 seconds. If your baby stops breathing for more than 10 seconds, follow these sudden infant death syndrome treatment steps:
- Flick your finger on the infant’s feet or give the baby a pinch to wake him or her up
- Never shake a baby awake, as this can cause serious head injury
- If the infant doesn’t wake, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and have someone call 9-1-1.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Prevention
While there is no guaranteed method of prevention of sudden infant death syndrome, there are various steps that parents and caregivers can take to help reduce its possibility, such as "Back to Sleep" and "Safe to Sleep."
Created by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "Back to Sleep" recommends that every baby sleeps on his or her back during the first year of life. Once the baby is able to roll onto its side, it is okay to let the baby sleep in whichever position it chooses. To prevent flat head syndrome—in which a baby develops a flat spot on the back of their heads from spending too much time lying on their backs—supervised "tummy time" is recommended when the baby is awake. You should speak with a healthcare professional if your baby has an upper airway condition, as these infants may need to sleep on their stomachs.
The AAP also created the "Safe to Sleep" campaign, which provides parents with guidelines for a safe sleeping environment. These various steps that can prevent the symptoms of sudden infant death syndrome include:
- Don’t let the infant sleep in an adult bed, couch, car seat, stroller, or swing
- Keep your baby in a crib or bassinet for at least the first six months or year of their life; during that time, keep the crib or bassinet in your room
- Do not let multiple babies sleep in the same crib
- Use a firm crib mattress and avoid fluffy mattress padding and bumped pads; these are all suffocation hazards
- Avoid extra covers to prevent overheating; to keep the baby appropriately warm, use a sleep cover or sleep sack
Additional safety measures can include:
- Offering a pacifier—without a strap or string—after the baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and you've established a nursing routine
- Breastfeeding your infant for its first six months
- Refraining from smoking or using drugs or alcohol before or after birth
- Some research suggests that immunization might help to prevent SIDS
If you suffer the unexpected death of a baby, it is important to determine the cause. It is also important to know that it is no one's fault if a baby dies from SIDS. Counseling or psychotherapy can be helpful to work through the grief of losing a child. To make an appointment with a healthcare professional who specializes in crib death syndrome in Phoenix, call (480) 961-2366 or contact Kevin Chan online.
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