By Dr. Surinder Kaur Gambhir, Gynaecology
Sudden infant death syndrome, also seldom referred to as ‘cot death’, is an unexpected, sudden and unexplained death of a seemingly healthy infant. Under this condition, most of the deaths occur during the initial six months of the baby’s birth. Babies born underweight or prematurely are at a greater risk of such. Besides, SIDS is more widely prevalent in newborn boys. It affects a baby when he is asleep, even though it can sometimes occur when the child is awake.
It is possible for parents to bring down the risk of SIDS by avoiding habits such as smoking while being pregnant or even after the birth of their child and also putting the baby to sleep on his/her back.
Although the actual cause of SIDS is not known; it is considered to be an after-effect of several factors combined, some of which are mentioned below:
Issues with the body’s mechanism to identify an excess of CO2 in blood, which should indicate breathing.
Issues with your child’s ability to wake up from sleep. According to a recent study, the infants who pass away due to SIDS suffered from brain-stem abnormalities that stop a child from waking up when he/she cannot breathe enough oxygen.
When the baby sleeps on his/her side or stomach. Studies have revealed that sleeping on stomach augments the SIDS risks by 1.7 to 12.9 times as compared to sleeping on the back.
Sleeping on soft surfaces or soft bedding.
When your baby is exposed to the smoke of cigarettes before (in the womb) and after birth.
- Make your child sleep on his/her back.
- Always use a firm surface like a crib to allow your baby to sleep on.
Besides, use of soft cushions or quilts for your baby’s crib should not be allowed. It is also advised to keep soft toys away from your baby’s room. The bed for your baby should ideally be a stiff crib mattress covered with a firmly fitted sheet.
The temperature in your child’s room should remain moderate.