SIDS: Safe Sleeping Advice for Young Parents

Safe Sleeping Advice for Young Parents"How would you tell that what you feed my baby is enough?" or "How do I ensure my baby is having a safe sound sleep?"

There is anxiety that comes with first-time parents. Such questions are bound to arise with new and young parents. The latter question being of particular interest in that UK reports approximately three hundred cases of Sudden Infant Deaths Syndrome (SIDS) annually. Metaphorically, we are looking at an airbus A300 fully boarded by infants crashing yearly in the UK.

What is SIDS?

As the name suggests, it is the unexpected death of an otherwise healthy under one-year-old infant in which even after thorough medical examinations, the cause of death remains unexplained. The majority of SIDS deaths occur while the infant is asleep in the cot and hence it is also known as cot death.

Causes of SIDS

The causative agent of SIDS remains undocumented. However, certain risk factors have been associated with SIDS. Underlying vulnerabilities such as low levels of serotonin ( a hormone tasked with breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure regulation during sleep), faulty respiratory and cardiovascular system as well as  environmental stressors are some of the risk factors of SIDS  that have been published. Examples of well-studied environmental factors include breathing obstruction, co-sleeping with your infant, sleeping position of your infant and effect of smoke around your infant.

Reducing SIDS Death risks

Even though SIDS cause remains uncertain, certain measures as advised and adopted by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) under the acronym ‘ABC’S for safe sleep’ as described below, will be of help  in reducing SIDS deaths.

  • A for Alone – Co-sharing of sleeping space is a no-no. Your baby should always be provided with  his/her own separate sleeping space. For the first six to twelve months, it is advisable to let your baby sleep alone in his or her own coat in the same room for easy monitoring. But, if the parents are smokers, room sharing is not a wise idea. 
  • B for Back – The back is the standard position recommended for putting your baby to sleep. This position has been scientifically proven to reduce the  risk of SIDS. The rationale of putting your baby to sleep on their back is the position of the food pipe in relation to the windpipe. Chances of your baby vomiting and choking while sleeping on their back are significantly reduced since the windpipe sits above the food pipe. Consequently, regurgitated milk is easily re-swallowed unlike when the baby sleeps on either her tummy or sides.
  • C for Cot – As discussed above, babies are less prone to SIDS deaths if they sleep in their own crib. When travelling in a caravan, never share your bed mattress with your infant, says Custom Size Beds. Go for a portable cot mattress that comes along with the portable cot. A safe sleeping cot is described as one with a firm mattress and free of any other loose objects such as toys and pillows. You are advised to ensure that your baby's cot and the beddings meet the British safety standards (BSEN716). 
  • S for Smoke – You baby’s sleeping environment ought to be smoke-free. Studies indicate that a child born to a smoking mother is four times at risk of SIDS death compared with that child born to a non-smoking mother. A smoke-free environment should be observed before and after birth.
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Sudden Infant Deaths Syndrome specific causes remain undocumented. Certain underlying factors and risks, however, have been associated with SIDS by paediatricians. Following these correlation studies, measures to reduce SIDS have been put forward and adopted under the acronym ‘ABC’S for safe sleep’.

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