SIDS: What you need to know
While October is usually associated with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this month is also used to educate parents about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Read more about how this tragic syndrome disproportionately affects Black babies and what parents can do prevent it.
What Is SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is when a baby under the age of 1 suddenly dies for an unknown reason that cannot explained by medical professionals. SIDS usually occurs when babies are sleeping.
How Common Is SIDS?
SIDS is the leading cause of death for babies 1 to 12 months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that SIDS kills 2,000 babies every year.
African Americans and SIDS
While SIDS rates have fallen over the years, African-American babies are grossly affected by SIDS. Our babies have over twice the infant death as whites and our babies have the second highest rate of SIDS, says womenshealth.gov. Past data suggests that black parents are more likely to lay their babies on their bellies when sleeping and have blankets and other items in the beds, all of which raises a baby’s risk of SIDS.
Why Does SIDS Happen?
SIDS remains a mystery … the cause is unknown. But past research has found that lying a baby down makes it vulnerable to death. Also, some SIDS deaths are really accident suffocation. These two factors are why there has been a huge push to educate parents about providing their baby with a safer sleep routine.
What Pregnant Mothers Can Do Now
Taking care of yourself before you give birth may also be helpful in reducing your baby’s risk of infant death: Get prenatal care; take folic acid during your pregnancy; get all of your vaccines; manage your current chronic illnesses as diabetes and high blood pressure; and stay on top of the meds you are taking.
To reduce your baby’s risk, the American Association of Pediatrics suggests: Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, even for short naps; use a firm sleep surface, such as a crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet; don’t put covers and loose bedding in the crib; keep the babies cool, don’t let them get overheated; and have your baby sleep with a pacifier.
What Is “Tummy Time”?
“Tummy time” is when you place your baby on their belly. Only have tummy time, when someone is around to monitor the baby’s actions. Tummy time is good for your baby, because it helps strengthen their neck muscles and avoid flat spots in their heads, says healthychildren.org.
Other Types of Infant Loss
While SIDS accounts for almost half of the 4,000 plus sudden infant deaths that occur each year, 918 deaths were to unknown causes and 629 were due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, says the CDC.
The loss of a child can be one the most traumatic events that a person may encounter. First, know that SIDS is not your fault and that you do not have to go through it alone. For help and support, go to sidsamerica.org.
For more about healthy babies and safe sleeping, go to BET.com.