Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS, is the major “cause of death” among infants ranging from the ages of one month to one year, most occurring between two and four months old. SIDS is determined as the cause of death only after the proper procedures rule out all other reasonable doubt of any other causes of death. SIDS deaths are sudden, occurring quickly with no signs of any suffering while the infants are asleep. SIDS is not caused by minor illness, such as colds, nor is it contagious or the cause of every unexpected infant death, it is only the diagnosis established by conclusion (Understanding the Mystery of SIDS).
Researchers have their own ideas of maybe why this occurs in some infants, but the cause has still not been found. SIDS cases have been studied and there have been several similarities found, but nothing points at a direct cause. Babies under stress, caused by infection, failure to develop, or the growth period, are more vulnerable to SIDS (Understanding the Mystery of SIDS). Male babies are more susceptible to any diseases than are females, so therefore they are more susceptible to SIDS as well (Male Susceptibility to SIDS). The male-to-female ratio of SIDS is 60-to-40 percent (Understanding the Mystery of SIDS).
Research shows that the mother’s behavior, actions, and health prior to giving birth has and influence on the occurrence of SIDS. Prenatal care is a big risk factor. Mother’s who have taken better care of themselves and their unborn have a lower risk of SIDS. Mother’s that smoke, abuse drugs, have a history of STD’s, or have children while fewer than twenty years old have a greater risk of SIDS occurring (Questions & Answers). The relationship between these factors are not clear and are not ruled as causes, just hopefully serve as some kind of explanation.
Several recurring risk factors have been found while trying to determine the cause of death occurring in SIDS. Eight percent of SIDS deaths occur in the first six months of life, this age infants are considered to be at higher risk (Krous). Irritability and poor feeding are major factors in the risk. Babies found to have cyanosis, respiratory distress, hypothermia, tachycardia, or tachypnea is also at a higher risk (Questions & Answers). These factors have been found similar in numerous cases, but are not significant causes of SIDS.
While researchers are still unsure about the causes of SIDS, there is no way to predict or prevent it. Studies exploring child development, nervous system, brain, sleep and breathing patterns, body chemical balance, autopsy findings, and environmental factors are being conducted to learn more about what could possibly cause this mysterious syndrome. For those at higher risk, there are tools available that monitor your baby’s breathing patterns while asleep and sounds an alarm when the pattern is broken. The apnea monitor is not a cure, nor can it prevent SIDS, it just gives those with higher risk babies a piece of mind (Questions & Answers).
Parents can take measures into their own hands to reduce the risk of their children contracting SIDS. Placing infants on their backs to sleep reduces the chance of the occurrence of SIDS by fifty percent. Infants should sleep on a firm, flat mattress rather than a soft fluffy one without any covers that they could get tangled up in. there are also wedges, wedge-shaped pillow, made to keep infants from rolling over onto their bellies, lower the risk of SIDS (Questions & Answers).
Mothers that smoke should refrain from smoking around their infants, as well as everyone else. It is bad enough that mother’s smokings greatens the risk of SIDS occurring, but second hand smoke doubles the chance. Cigarette smoke is believed to interfere with the development of the lungs and nervous system and disrupts the infant’s ability to wake up (Questions & Answers).
Prenatal care is another huge factor in reducing the risk of SIDS. Good health, nutrition with regular check-ups while pregnant lowers the risk, as well as proper care for the infant when and after it arrives. Receiving regular check-ups and immunizations helps aide in lower the risks. Another big factor would be a baby’s temperature. Babies should be kept warm, but not too warm because overheated babies have a greater chance of not waking up (Questions & Answers).
Since there is no explainable cause of SIDS, a certain procedure must be conducted before an infant can be diagnosed as a SIDS infant. An autopsy report must be made to rule out all other causes of death, the death scene must be investigated to collect all the information you can to aide in the case. The review of the victim and family’s case history is also conducted (Understanding the Mystery of SIDS).
An autopsy report provides anatomical evidence through microscopic examination of tissue samples and vital organs. SIDS cannot be diagnosed without a postmortem exam of the infant to rule out any of possibilities on the cause of death. Then and only then is the infant diagnosed as a SIDS infant. Furthermore, an autopsy report helps to further the research for the cause of this deadly diagnosis (Understanding the Mystery of SIDS).
A proper investigation should be conducted at the scene of death. Any helpful evidence should be collected from the scene. As painful as it may be to talk about the tragedy, the parents and any other caregivers must be interviewed. Following the investigation, it gets deeper into the background of the deceased and the family. This will show if any kind of illness may have “caused” SIDS to occur (Understanding the Mystery of SIDS).
In conclusion, SIDS is a very scary thing. There is nothing known about what causes it and nothing can be done to prevent it. I hope that with the technology that we have today and will have in the future there will be something found that can explain the direct cause of SIDS or even maybe prevent it from occurring. Until the cause or a cure is found, we will all live in fear of the dreadful killer, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
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