Living Well: When babies sleep on their backs, the risk of SIDS decreases
Thousands of babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly each year. Half of these deaths, known as sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), are due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Scientists and medical providers don’t know the cause of SIDS, but they do know what increases a baby’s risk for SIDS.
“SIDS essentially is unexplained, but possible genetic causes include brain abnormalities and possible cardiac issues,” said Kevin Monahan, a physician assistant at Memorial Regional Health specializing in pediatrics. “SIDS is the leading cause of infant mortality between one month and one year old.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released updates to policy statements about SIDS over the years, the most recent of which includes “new evidence that supports skin-to-skin care for newborn infants; addresses the use of bedside and in-bed sleepers; and adds to recommendations on how to create a safe sleep environment.”
- SIDS is a sudden and silent medical disorder that can happen to an infant who seems healthy.
- SIDS is sometimes called “crib death” or “cot death” because it is associated with the time when the baby is sleeping. Cribs themselves don’t cause SIDS, but the baby’s sleep environment can influence sleep-related causes of death.
- SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.
- About 1,360 babies died of SIDS in 2017, the last year for which such statistics are available.
- Most SIDS deaths happen in babies between 1 month and 4 months of age, and the majority (90%) of SIDS deaths happen before a baby reaches 6 months of age. However, SIDS deaths can happen anytime during a baby’s first year.
- Slightly more boys die of SIDS than girls.
Pediatric care at MRH
When it comes to keeping your kids happy and healthy, it’s important to find an experienced, knowledgeable pediatrician that you can trust. The pediatric team at MRH takes the time to get to know your family and ensures you’re always satisfied with the care provided for your loved ones.
MRH pediatricians have experience working with babies, children, adolescents and young adults, and see patients from birth until they’re 21 years of age.
Pediatric services include the following:
- Well child checks
- Sports physical exams
- Infections and injuries
- Genetic defects
- Organic diseases and dysfunctions
If you have any questions for the pediatric team or you’d like to make an appointment, call 970-826-2480.
SIDS isn’t totally preventable, but prevention methods often focus on sleep environments. Monahan said MRH pediatric providers always try to discuss the importance of having babies sleep on their backs during baby visits.
Monahan said more than 95 percent of SIDS cases are associated with one or more risk factors. Since prone sleeping — or sleeping on your stomach — is the most known risk factor for SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics (healthychildren.org) recommends all babies to sleep on their backs until their first birthday.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, babies are at increased risk for SIDS if they:
- Sleep on their stomachs.
- Sleep on soft surfaces, such as an adult mattress, couch or chair, or under soft coverings.
- Sleep on or under soft or loose bedding.
- Get too hot during sleep.
- Are exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb or in their environment, such as at home, in the car, in the bedroom or other areas.
- Sleep in an adult bed with parents, other children or pets; this situation is especially dangerous if:
- The adult smokes, has recently had alcohol or is tired.
- The baby is covered by a blanket or quilt.
- The baby sleeps with more than one bed-sharer.
- The baby is younger than 11 to 14 weeks of age.