Last Modified on Jun 22, 2014
A devastating disorder, SIDS is medically known as sudden infant death syndrome. While the cause of the syndrome is unknown, several risk factors and preventative measures have been identified. One of the most important risk reduction factors is placing a baby on his or her back to sleep.
What is SIDS?
Sudden infant death syndrome can be defined as the unexplained death, typically during sleep, of a seemingly healthy infant. The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown; however, several associated factors have been identified.
Brain abnormalities, low birth weight and respiratory infection have been deemed as physical factors linked to SIDS. Sleeping on the stomach or side, sleeping on a soft surface and sleeping with the parents are known environmental risk factors. Additional contributing factors include the sex of the baby, age, race, and family history of the condition. Mothers under the age of 20 who smoke, use drugs or alcohol and have inadequate prenatal care are also more likely to have babies affected by the condition.
Prevention Measures for Crib Death
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS, several measures can be taken to protect the child and ensure a healthy infancy. Breast-feeding has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS and should be done exclusively for the first six months of life. Additionally, the baby should be placed on his or her back to sleep. A firm mattress free of thick, fluffy padding or bedding is also important. The crib should also be empty of bumper pads, pillows, fluffy toys and stuffed animals.
Clothing the baby in a sleep sack or other breathable sleep clothing and using only a lightweight blanket helps prevent the syndrome as well. Additionally, the child should sleep alone in his or her own bed not with the parents. This measure prevents suffocation. A pacifier offered at naptime and bedtime can also prevent the syndrome; however, breast-feeding mothers should wait until their babies are at least one month old and have established a comfortable nursing routine before offering a pacifier.
SIDS is an overwhelming but real condition that can put strain on a family. Effective preventative measures can be taken to avoid such a loss. Additionally, therapy and other emotional support following such a loss go a long way toward helping a family heal.
Go to http://children-allergy.com and read. Quotes study finding 2500 out of 5000 SIDS deaths related to vaccinations. Alleges Japan dramatically lowered SIDS deaths by raising (1970's) vaccination age from 2 months to 2 years.
This could give parents being charged with neglect or child abuse for not having their children vaccinated the ammunition they need if hailed into court and make the CDC and FDA pay more attention to their jobs/rules.
Below is an October 7, 2008, article from the Wall Street Journal concerning SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) that we think you'll find very informative. We have also included a letter from Joyce Duke, RN -- one of Earth Clinic's frequent contributors -- explaining her own long-held theory about the cause of SIDS.
We ask that you please forward this to as many friends and family members as possible, especially those with newborns. If we can save the life of even one infant with this information, what a blessing it will be.
STUDY SUGGESTS FAN USE CUTS SIDS RISK IN BABIES
October 7, 2008
By JENNIFER CORBETT DOOREN
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., compared 185 babies who died from SIDS in 11 California counties between May 1, 1997 and April 30, 2000, with 312 normal infants from similar socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds living in the same counties. Mothers were asked several questions about fan use, pacifier use, room location, sleep surface, the type of covers over the baby, bedding under the infant, room temperature and whether a window was open.
The study, which is being published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that using a fan cut the risk of SIDS by 72%. The use of a fan in a room with a temperature higher than 69 degrees Fahrenheit was associated with a 94% decreased risk of SIDS compared with no fan use.
SIDS, or a sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than one year old, kills about 2,500 infants annually and is the leading cause of death in that age group. While the cause of SIDS is unknown, one theory is that babies re-breathe exhaled carbon dioxide trapped near their airways from bedding or sleeping on their stomachs.
Since the mid-1990s it's been recommended that infants be placed on their backs to sleep rather than their stomachs. That recommendation, along with others such as sleeping on a firm mattress and avoiding soft bedding, was linked to a more than 50% decline in SIDS deaths from 1992 to 2003.
The lead researcher in the latest study, De-Kun Li, explained that fan use increases air movement in a baby's bedroom that could protect babies from re-breathing carbon dioxide.
"If parents want to take an extra measure, they should consider using a fan," he said. Dr. Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist, stressed that using a fan isn't a substitute for placing babies on their backs to sleep.
Marian Willinger, Special Assistant for SIDS Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said the findings on fan use were interesting but need to be replicated.
"It cannot be emphasized strongly enough, however, that there is no substitute for the most effective means known to reduce the risk of SIDS: always placing infants for sleep on their backs," Dr. Willinger said in a statement.
Since 2005, it's also been recommended that infants use a pacifier. In 2005, Dr. Li released research from the same group of women used in the fan study, showing use of a pacifier cut the risk of SIDS by 90%. That finding helped back up recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on adding pacifiers to the list of recommendations to cut SIDS risks.
The new study also looked at whether windows were open or closed. Babies who slept with an open window were less likely to die from SIDS compared to babies who slept with a closed window, but the finding wasn't considered statistically significant. The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Kaiser Permanente.
Write to Jennifer Corbett Dooren at firstname.lastname@example.org
The parents of these SIDS babies stated that they showed no signs of illness prior to their death.
Most of these babies were sleeping on their stomachs at the time of death.
The first thing that started me toward my theory was when I read about a doctor being awakened one night and going to check on his baby to find it not breathing and was aware of an ammonia odor in the baby's room. He hastily picked up the baby and held him in an open window to revive him. Mention was not made of whether or not he used chest compressions or other measures beyond the fresh air. While reading this I remembered many times that I was aware of a heavy ammonia odor when changing the early morning diapers on my own babies. They never had it while awake and their diapers were being changed often.
At this point I remembered reading about a wife found dead in her bathroom who apparently died while cleaning it. After an autopsy failed to find the cause of her death, the theory emerged that she was using both bleach and ammonia in cleaning the bathroom; when combined these two chemicals form a deadly gas that caused her death, leading to the warning to never mix bleach and ammonia together.
One question has never been answered for me, but the latest information on SIDS deaths being reduced further by the use of a fan makes me wonder even more, if my simple theory is correct.
Were the parents of these children ever asked, or did any of the autopsy reports ever address what these SIDS babies were wearing when they died? My theory hinges on the kind of diaper these children were wearing. If they were wearing a cloth diaper, which has again become very popular and would have been laundered (by the mother or diaper service), was bleach used in the laundering of them? Another question that I have never seen published is: Were they wearing a plastic panty over the diaper at their death?
Stale urine often does develop a strong ammonia odor. A baby wearing a cloth diaper laundered with bleach, under plastic panties, sleeping on its stomach would be in a position that would tunnel any gas formed (from ammonia in the urine & bleach in the diapers) and escaping at the waist right into its nose. I don't think it would take as much gas to overwhelm a baby as it did the woman cleaning her bathroom. A fan would keep the air moving and dilute the gas thereby preventing the death. An open window would increase air circulation and dilute the gas also.
At least one reader I am sure remembers exactly what her infant was wearing at the time of the child's SIDS death. If you are reading this and can answer my questions above, please write to me. I would welcome any and all replies from mothers and fathers of SIDS babies. Only you can answer my questions and prevent future SIDS deaths.
Please start warning new mothers of the danger while waiting for the answer if the above conditions were present when your little one died."
Joyce S. Duke, RN
Contact Email: jsduke33(at)gmail.com