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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – how long is it a threat to the baby and can it be prevented?

Date added: 20.04.2022

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under one year of age without a known cause. It is the leading cause of death in infants between the ages of 1 month and 1 year. SIDS is sometimes known as cot death because infants often die in their cots. The causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are unclear and there is no one way to reduce the risk of SIDS in babies.

Researchers have discovered certain factors that can increase the risk of SIDS in infants. They have also identified measures that can be taken to try to protect the baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Probably the most important of these is to put the baby to sleep on its back.

There are also factors that may be predisposing to SIDS:

  • Brain defects – some babies are born with problems that make them more likely to die from SIDS. In many of these babies, the part of the brain that controls breathing and waking from sleep has not matured to function properly.
  • Low birth weight – premature birth increases the likelihood that the baby’s brain has not fully matured, making it less able to control automatic processes such as breathing and heart rate.
  • Gender – boys are slightly more likely to die from SIDS.
  • Race – for reasons that are not well understood, infants of non-white race are more likely to die from SIDS.
  • Family history – babies whose siblings or cousins have died from SIDS are at higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Secondhand smoke – babies who live with smokers are at greater risk of SIDS.

Can Sudden Infant Death Syndrome be prevented?

There are many steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and ensure that their baby sleeps safely.

What you can do to provide a safe sleep environment for your baby:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends laying babies to sleep on their backs. This is the safest position for them. It is also recommended that babies should not be put to sleep on their stomachs or sides.
  • If possible, try not to share a bed with your child. If you decide to share the same surface, make sure that there are no loose objects near your baby. Pillows, blankets and other soft objects (such as teddy bears) can contribute to your baby becoming entangled. This also includes the popular cot bumpers.
  • If your child sleeps on an extra bed, make sure there are no gaps between the extra bed and the bed/mattress that would increase the risk of them becoming trapped or suffocating.
  • Don’t let your child get too hot or cold.
  • Keep your child away from smokers during the day.
  • It is thought that respiratory monitors can help to detect the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. They track the infant’s breathing rhythm, providing greater peace of mind for parents. However, these monitors are not foolproof, so all of the above steps to protect your baby from accidental suffocation are very important!

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at the Home in Kasisi

SIDS did not spare the Home in Kasisi, taking little Mishek from us in April 2022 while he was sleeping. The boy had not previously shown any symptoms of illness.

Perhaps the mother’s young age contributed to the toddler’s death, or perhaps it was the low body weight at birth. Or maybe it was simply that little Mishek suffered from a disease that was never diagnosed. Unfortunately, hospital care for children after birth is limited in Zambia, and children do not undergo as extensive tests as children in Europe, for example. Many problems remain undiagnosed until it is too late.

If there is even a sliver of a chance that a test carried out at the House of Hope Hospital in Kasisi will save another child’s life, we will do what we can to make it happen. However, to be able to regularly test children, we need your support. Doctors’ work, laboratory reagents, equipment or even the simplest tests for the most common diseases are a great challenge for the budget of the Home in Kasisi. Donate a set of tests for a child and help us save a life!

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Cots for Kasisi

The metal cots and worn-out mattresses have lulled generations of Kasisi kids to sleep, but are now in desperate need of replacement.

Our dream is to make the babies’ bedrooms look like a truly homely, safe environment that is associated with warmth. Will you help us make this dream a reality?

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