Sudden infant death syndrome, which is also known as SIDS in short, is usually found in cases in healthy babies under 1 year old. This one usually occurs unexpectedly or without any signs of symptoms. If you have a baby and you want to protect them from this condition, it will be necessary for you to know the causes and the ways to prevent it.
In general, SIDS occurs when a baby is sleeping due to not getting enough oxygen. There are some different factors that can trigger this, including the sleeping position of the baby, the physical condition of the baby who has not reached a certain stage of development or is indeed weak due to an inherited condition.
Causes of SIDS
While the exact cause of SIDS remains unknown, it is suspected that this sudden death is caused by some factors, such as:
- Mutations or abnormalities in genes
- Disturbances in the brain
- Low birth weight
- Pulmonary infections
Factors that Can Trigger SIDS
These are some factors that can increase the risk of SIDS in infants:
1. Sleeping with the baby on the same bed or sofa
Sleeping with the babies in the same bed or on the couch can increase the risk of SIDS. For those who are wondering why, while sleeping, you can shift, turn around, and fall on your baby without realizing it. Remember that the body of the baby is tiny, so even a little pressure can interfere with their ability to breathe.
2. The baby sleeps on their stomach
The pressure on the respiratory tract when the baby is sleeping on their stomach makes it hard for them to breathe normally, resulting in reduced oxygen supply to the brain. In this case, the risk of SIDS is much greater if they do not yet have the ability to return to their sleeping on back position from sleeping on their stomach position.
3. Conditions during pregnancy and birth
Apparently, babies who are born prematurely or those who have low birth weight are also at risk of experiencing SIDS. In both conditions, the nervous system of the baby is not fully natural at birth. As a result, the ability of their brain to control the process of breathing automatically is not perfect.
Not only that, babies who are born to mothers aged less than 20 years or who do not carry out birth control and have a family history of dying from SIDs are also at higher risk of experiencing SIDS.
4. Exposure to hazardous substances
Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke, alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy and after birth are also more at risk of experiencing SIDS because the substances from these things can affect the development of the baby’s brain. So, after birth, their breathing and movement responses are weaker than they should be.
Apart from these factors above, babies who are under 4 months old, have respiratory infections, or experience heat while sleeping are also more at risk of experiencing SIDS.
Symptoms of SIDS
SIDS occurs suddenly. It means it does not show any symptoms. Basically, babies who look healthy and do not have any illnesses can also get SIDS.
When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?
Make sure to see the doctor as soon as possible if the condition of the baby is declining, especially if there are any of the following signs:
- Stop breathing suddenly
- Breathing appears fast followed by a pull (retraction) in between the ribs
- Not getting out of bed even though you have awakened
- Febrile seizures
- Exaggerated allergic reactions
- High body temperature but feet and hands are cold
- Body temperature remains high even though the medicine to reduce the fever has been given
- The baby becomes quiet and lethargic even though their body temperature is not high
- The baby is difficult or does not want to be breastfed
SIDS is the kind of thing that cannot be diagnosed due to its sudden nature. Aside from that, this one can be caused by a variety of conditions.
SIDS Complications in Parents
It seems like it is safe to say that parents who suddenly lose their baby will experience deep sadness and mourning that will show some symptoms, such as:
- Numbness and confusion
- Feelings of sadness and prolonged crying
- Often feel tired both physically and mentally
Usually, parents whose babies experience SIDS need to be accompanied so they will not get lost in grief. It is also important to reassure them that SIDS is not fully their fault.
Mental Recovery in Parents after SIDS
Losing a loved one can cause a deep feeling of sadness. This condition can trigger mental stress. If the parents have babies with SIDS, they can share their feelings with their close relatives or people who share the same experience as them. It is believed to be effective to help them reduce the stress that arises as a result of the event. In addition, it would be better for those who have lost their babies due to SIDS to consult further with a psychologist or psychiatrist.
In order to prevent SIDS in babies, there are a few things that you can do. Some of them include:
- Avoid sleeping with your baby, whether on the same bed, couch, or chair.
- Put your baby to sleep in a comfortable cot or special bed for the baby. Besides, you should also place their bed near yours.
- Make sure the bedding is not too soft and not too hard.
- Avoid placing relatively large and heavy dolls, pillows, or bolsters around your baby.
- Adjust the temperature of the room so that it is not too hot or too cold.
- Make sure the blanket is no higher than their shoulder.
- Make sure the baby always sleeps on his back, at least until they are 1 year old.
- Keep the baby from exposure to cigarette smoke.
This infographic about sleep position will help you:
It is true that SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome is terrible. Therefore, you should anticipate and prevent this condition from happening. If needed, you can also ask your doctor about the best way to prevent this, according to the condition of your baby.