October is known for Breast Cancer Awareness month; however, it is also Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
SIDS, previously known as “Crib Death” is used as a broad term until an autopsy is performed. It is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant (a baby less than a year old) with a negative autopsy report.
A negative autopsy report means that the medical examiner could not find a direct cause of death. This means that SIDS is not a congenital disease, but is brought on by genetic and environmental factors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2013 about 1,500 infants died of SIDS. This number is low compared to before the 1990s. In 1990, it went from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births to 2013 having 39.7 deaths per 100,000 live births.
One factor that plays a particular role in the decline of SIDS is the onset of back sleeping. Pediatricians tell new parents to always put the baby to bed on his or her back, instead of their side or stomach. It significantly lowers the risk of the baby suddenly dying in their sleep.
Dr. Dan R. Spearman, M.D, a Pediatrics doctor at Baptist Primary Care in Orange Park, FL illustrates the genetic factors that play a role in SIDS.
“Premature infants are at greater risk, especially those under 1000 grams (2.2 pounds). Babies who are small for their gestational age are also at risk. Hispanic and African American babies are also more likely to die from SIDS,” said Dr. Spearman.
Dr. Spearman also points out the environmental factors that could affect infants.
“The environmental factors would be mainly soft mattresses, overheating rooms, obviously bed positioning and coverings on babies,” added Dr. Spearman.
According to FloridaCharts.com, there were a reported total of 3,930 SIDS- related deaths from 2012-2014 per 1,000 live births. Of that total, 66 of those deaths were reported in Leon County.
Kelly Sedlacek-Dekin, a mother and registered nurse for the Duval County School board in Jacksonville explains what not to put in babies cribs to reduce the risk of SIDS.
“The safest thing to have in a baby’s crib is a mattress and sheet. Bumper pads for cribs, stuffed animals and blankets are all suffocating hazards. Also, make sure not to have the room too warm,” said Sedlacek-Dekin.
Sedlacek-Dekin also reminds parents not to share a bed with an infant.
“It is so important not to share a bed or fall asleep on the couch with your infant. You could smother the baby. Sadly, this a common cause of SIDs,” added Sedlacek.
Nathalie Asselin, mother and registered nurse at Mt. Herman Exceptional Student Center gives couples important facts before they try to conceive.
“Smoking increases the chance of baby die from SIDS. Do not smoke around children. Also, babies born to mothers under the age of 20 years old are more likely to die from SIDS. If a teen is already a mother, it is best to wait until she is 20 years old to try to have another baby,” said Asselin.
For more information about SIDS, visit the Center for Disease Control's website at http://www.cdc.gov/sids/