SIDS is something that new parents never want to think about. In the early days of bringing babies home from the hospital, moms wake up in the middle of the night to ensure that little ones are still breathing. The first time that babies sleep through the night, moms wake up in a panic thinking the worst. And while safe sleep practices have dramatically reduced the rate at which babies suffer from SIDS, the fact of the matter is, is that babies are still perishing every year. This leaves parents wondering just how common SIDS truly is.
Parents cannot wrap their brains around the fact that in the blink of an eye, their newborns or infants could be taken from them while little ones slumber. All of the joy surrounding having babies just to have that snatched away is not only unfair but something that can change the trajectory of lives and relationships. As such, it is no wonder that parents do everything in their power to keep babies safe, awake or asleep, so that heartbreak does not need to occur.
Here is how common SIDS is.
What Is SIDS?
Most parents have heard about what SIDS is. However, not all understand just how it happens.
According to the NHSsudden infant death syndrome is when there is an “unexpected or unexplained death” of an otherwise healthy baby.
When SIDS does happen, most of the fatalities occur within the first six months of babies’ lives. This is when babies are at their least mobile. And as a result, they can easily have their airways blocked and have no way to move away from what is causing this to occur. This is why there is the recommendation to have nothing in babies’ beds until they are at least one year of age.
Other factors that could cause SIDS to occur, per the publication include:
- Low birth weight
- Born prematurely
- Common illness
- Environmental stressors
- Babies having problems with the way they handle stressors that increase heart rate and temperature
SIDS is a very scary thought for parents to process. And hopefully, one day, it will not be an issue babies need to face in their first days to months of life.
How Common Is SIDS?
According to Boston Children’s Hospital, SIDS is the number one cause of death among babies six months of age and younger. And while this is a statistic that no parent wants to hear, as long as safe sleeping practices are followed, the risk of SIDS is not very high.
Approximately 2,500 babies die annually from SIDS in the United States, according to UpToDate. This is considerably less than what the rates were in the 1990s before the “Back to Sleep” campaign rolled out with full force. When parents started to place their babies on their backs to go to sleep for the first year of life, many more survived.
But with parents not all being privy to this information or following practices of their parents from decades ago, babies are still passing away from SIDS.
Ways To Minimize Risk Of SIDS
To ensure that babies have the best chance at life and that going to sleep does not bring them harm, there are ways to minimize the risk of SIDS.
According to the Mayo Clinicways to minimize SIDS include:
- Placing babies on their backs to sleep every single time
- Do not place anything in the crib with baby
- Have baby sleep on a firm mattress
- Do not bed share with baby
- Keep baby at a comfortable temperature, so there is no overheating
- Have baby sleep in the same room as parents for at least six months
- Breastfeed if possible or if interested
- Give babies pacifiers
- Immunize baby
If all of these recommendations are followed, the risk of SIDS is greatly decreased. And because of this, the chances of babies falling victim are very small.
When The Risk Of SIDS Peaks
When babies are between two and four months of age, they are at the greatest risk for SIDS. According to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, this is because the cardiovascular system is in “rapid transition and therefore unstable.” This means that it is very possible for babies to not remember to breathe, and it can cause them to unexpectedly pass away.
At the age of six months old, babies are better able to move their bodies and heads. This makes the risk of SIDS far less, according to the Pediatric Sleep Council. However, with 10 percent of SIDS cases happening between six months of age and one year old, babies are not completely out of the woods.
Once babies reach their first birthdays, per publication, the risk of SIDS is virtually gone. And while safe sleep practices should still be followed, parents can breathe a sigh of relief that their worries about SIDS can all but disappear.
Source: NHS, Boston Children’s Hospital, UpToDate, Mayo Clinic, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Pediatric Sleep Council