Sleep Care


Sudden Infant-Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a parent’s worst nightmare. An otherwise healthy infant, laid down to sleep, is found dead hours later. What’s unusual is that subsequent autopsies on SIDS victims can’t find any reason for the baby’s death. SIDS usually occurs in children between 2 and 4 months of age, with 90% of deaths occurring before 6 months. For some reason, there is an increase in SIDS cases during winter, especially during the month of January. SIDS refers to the sudden deaths of babies, and is not attributed to a single cause or medical condition. Rather, in SIDS, a variety of factors coming together.

Research has produced substantial evidence that a lot of SIDS cases are caused by an inability to arouse from sleep when O2 levels become too low, or CO2 levels become too high. When the levels veer out of their normal range during sleep, a cortical arousal occurs to wake the baby, resulting in O2/CO2 levels becoming normalized again, and the baby returns to sleep afterward. The same is true in adults. In SIDS babies, it is believed that the cortical-arousal process is impaired or blocked somehow, resulting in dangerous oxygen or carbon-dioxide levels and eventually leading to death. Research has also shown a link between heart arrhythmias and future SIDS victims. Boys are more often victims than girls.

Environmental factors have also been shown to have an effect. Babies born to smoking mothers, or who are exposed to cigarette smoke after being born, have a much higher risk of SIDS. Babies who sleep face down are much more likely to die of SIDS. In fact, when new parents were advised to place sleeping infants on their backs in the early 90s, SIDS cases were reduced dramatically. There is also a higher rate of SIDS among babies who were one of multiples (twins, triplets, etc) or who were born prematurely.

What can parents do to reduce the likelihood of their baby dying from SIDS? To begin with, a healthy pregnancy helps develop a healthy baby. It is important to avoid drugs, alcohol, and smoking while pregnant, and not to smoke around a new baby. Breastfeed a baby if possible, as this can help avoid respiratory infections. Place a sleeping infant in a crib, with a firm mattress and tight sheets. Keep stuffed animals, loose bedding, and pillows away from the crib. Do not let the

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