The Truth About When to stop worrying about SIDS

For the baby’s first year of life, parents worry about SIDS. Makes you wonder the truth about when to stop worrying about SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly abbreviated as SIDS, is a healthy baby’s sudden and unexplained death.

What is even worse is that clinicians cannot establish the apparent cause.

Thus you might be wondering when to stop worrying about SIDS?

The disease is among the leading reasons for succumbing infants under one year and significantly below six months of age.

The unfortunate issue about SIDS is that you can only control it based on the risk factors.

When can I stop worrying about SIDS?

It is typical for you to be concerned about your baby’s health and anything as little as to whether he has had enough to eat.

Since most cases of SIDS are sleep-related, you need to be watchful whenever your baby sleeps.

The uncertainty reduces as the baby turns a year old since it is out of the prevalent age group.

However, it would be best to practice some safety precautions until the infant is entirely out of danger. Additionally, an infant’s susceptibility to SIDS is high during the winter season.

Therefore, any other season other than this should not cause much worry.

Theories of SIDS occurrence

Even though researchers and medical practitioners have been unable to define the causes of SIDS clearly, it is believed to be linked with low oxygen levels, build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, and the inability of the infant to arouse from sleep. 

Typically, any rise in carbon dioxide levels in the blood activates the nerve cell, stimulating respiratory centers.

Still, the baby’s inability to turn hinders the perfect response to the stimuli.

The triple risk model for SIDS explains how SIDS is believed to happen.

Contextual to its name, the model is based on three simultaneously occurring events.

 First and foremost, the infant may be having an underlying medical condition that disadvantages his response to low oxygen or high carbon dioxide blood levels.

Following that is the sleeping style (either on the tummy or side), which triggers SIDS.

The model evaluates that this condition mainly occurs during the first three months, a vulnerable stage for the infant.

How is SIDS diagnosed?

Following an autopsy, death scene investigation, or a review of clinical history, a baby is diagnosed with SIDS. It can only be identified once all the other possible causes are eliminated.

What causes SIDS?

As I had mentioned earlier, the cause of SIDS is yet to be established.

Even its diagnosis is dependent on the risk factors. It takes a combination of multiple factors to cause death in an already predisposed infant.

The infant may also have an underlying health problem that puts them at high risk.

It could be due to underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for responding to unusual breathing rhythms for some babies.

Alternatively, a defective heart can be a cause of SIDS.

At the same time, an infant with an existing respiratory illness such as a cold can easily be diagnosed with SIDS. Other causes are dependent on the sleep environment factors.

For instance, if you lay your baby on a soft surface facing down or sideways, they will be at risk. It could also be maternal factors such as the mother being less than twenty years of age or smoking and taking alcohol.

Who is at risk of being diagnosed with SIDS?

SIDS is considered genetic.

Despite being true, it sounds unrealistic. However, a baby born from a family with a history of SIDS is likely to be diagnosed with it.

Secondly, premature or low birth babies are prone to the condition.

Premature birth is an indication that the infant’s brain has not matured completely; therefore, it cannot effectively control all processes such as breathing. Lastly, babies who overheat during sleep are at high risk.

How to prevent SIDS

During the first year, it is necessary to use safe sleep practices to curb SIDS.

The following are some activities to prevent SIDS both before and beyond one year of age:

Room sharing for the first 4 to 6 months

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the body responsible for children’s health, advocates that you share a room with your infant as a preventive measure towards SIDS.

Recent research indicates that sleep malpractices of infants drastically increase at the age of 4 months.

You can quickly notice unsafe sleeping and swiftly attend to your baby before it causes any harm by sleeping with him in the same room.

Notably, you are warned against bed-sharing as it is another major cause of SIDS.

Encourage back sleeping

Contrary to the belief that parents shouldn’t put their babies to sleep on their backs, the American Academy of pediatrics roots back sleeping.

The institute launched a “back to sleep” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of letting your baby sleep on their stomach. Research showed that doing this increased the chances of SIDS by two-fold.

Your baby’s air pathways become blocked by resting on their tummy, leading to suffocation due to immature motor functions and weak heads that cannot turn and open their windpipe. 

Laying on a flat and firm surface

The infant’s sleeping surface should be firm and flat with a tightly fitted sheet.

It would be best if you were keen to ensure there are no indents on the sleeping surface as it can result in carbon dioxide re-breathing.

During the normal breathing process, your baby inhales clean oxygen from the atmosphere and exhales carbon dioxide.

With the baby’s face placed on the sleeping surface, the exhaled carbon dioxide is likely to be fitted in the small pockets, and the baby can re-breath it leading to suffocation.

Avoid using crib bumpers and soft objects

You should avoid the desire to pimp your baby’s crib with adorable decorations and plush toys.

The crib bumpers and soft objects can cause suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment of the baby.

Avoid using commercial devices inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations

Numerous advancements in the field have seen the development of loungers, positioners, and wedges that provide comfort to the baby while sleeping.

However, these devices contradict safe sleeping practices and put the baby at risk of SIDS. These devices are

only encouraged in supervised awake periods.

Therefore, it would be best to stick to the conventional “back to sleep” as it has been tried and tested.

Asking for sleep help

Staying up for long hours to check and attend to your baby can be exhausting.

It can make you shift to the more straightforward option of either bed-sharing with your infant or using devices that promise long sleep hours for your baby.

Unfortunately, these practices are unsafe and not recommended. Instead, try and take turns with your partner or opt to hire a sleep coach.

Use of a pacifier

It would be best that you add a pacifier to their mouth as you put your baby to sleep.

Sucking the pacifier requires forward tongue movement, which reduces the risk of oropharyngeal obstruction, thus reducing SIDS.

Nevertheless, you should not force the baby to use it if they are constantly resisting it. 

Avoid infant overheating

As stated earlier, babies that have high temperatures while sleeping are a vulnerable group.

It would help if you looked for any signs of overheating, such as sweating, to moderate the temperatures.

Breastfeeding

Exclusive or any breastfeeding has been shown to lower the chance of SIDS significantly. 

Avoid substance abuse

Do not use smoke or alcohol during pregnancy or after birth. You should abstain from drug abuse as the baby becomes a passive smoker.

Through passive smoking, the baby may develop respiratory difficulties, which predispose them to SIDS. 

Common concerns to sleeping on the back

You are probably aware of the positional plagiocephaly, commonly known as a flat head syndrome.

The babies develop a flat spot on the back of their heads due to spending too much time laying on their backs.

Consequentially, this may spike doubts about the “back to sleep” campaign.

However, to combat this, you are recommended to position your baby to lie on the stomach whenever they are awake, for example, during tummy time.

Additionally, there is a possibility of your child choking on their vomit while sleeping on their back.

However, it mostly happens to infants with upper airway malformations.

If your baby is suffering from the condition, you should seek the advice of your pediatrician.

Can a baby survive SIDS?

You are likely to panic when you see your baby’s face turning pale while struggling with breathing problems.

It is primarily attributed to the inadequate knowledge on how to deal with the situation.

It has to be complemented with your excellent and fast decision-making skills. However, increased awareness on how to deal with SIDS can significantly save lives. 

What is the difference between SIDS and SUID?

We often wonder if we are getting them wrong or if there is a mix-up.

However, there is no difference between SIDS and SUID since the former is an example of sudden and unexpected infant death.  

Final thoughts on When to stop worrying about SIDS

Losing a baby is what parents fear the most.

Therefore, it is advisable to follow the guidelines mentioned above. Always ensure the baby’s sleeping environment is safe. You could also ask your pediatrician and other parents what you are unsure of.  

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