Preventing and Reducing SIDS

Rate of SIDS has Dropped Over Last Ten Years

The rates of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, have dropped dramatically in the past 10 years, as parents have taken preventative measures such as placing infants on their backs to sleep. However, the syndrome, which is defined as the unexpected death of a child under age one in which an autopsy does not show any explainable cause, still remains a significant cause of death in infants today, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

In fact, reports that SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 month and 1 year, with deaths peaking between the ages of 2 and 4 months. Boys are more likely to suffer from the syndrome than girls, and the condition is not caused by vomiting, choking, child abuse or neglect.

Doctors Have Been Advocating Sleeping on Back

In 1992, doctors began recommending that babies be put to sleep on their backs, because certain factors, including sleeping on the stomach, were found to be linked to incidences of SIDS. Other potential causes include being around cigarette smoke while in the womb or after birth, sleeping in the same bed as parents, soft bedding in the crib, premature birth, being born to a teen mother and a short time between pregnancies, among others. A recent guideline released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to forgo using bumper pads in their infants cribs to further prevent SIDS.

The suggestion was published as part of an updated and expanded set of guidelines to prevent SIDS and promote safe sleeping in babies, CNN reports. The AAP reports that while there is no evidence that crib bumpers protect against injury from the bars of a crib, they do carry the potential risk of suffocating, strangling or entrapping an infant, because babies do not have the motor skills to turn their heads if they roll into something that obstructs their breathing.

Deaths Attributed to Other Causes

While the rates of SIDS have dropped since 1992, sleep-related deaths from other causes, such as suffocation, entrapment and asphyxia, have increased, the new policy statement reports. The recommendations were released October 18 at the AAP national Conference & Exhibition in Boston and will be published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

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