SIDS Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - Heading

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Education remains a crucial component of our mission.  Our staff presents educational seminars to parents, community groups, physicians, nurses, police officers, high school students, college students, social workers, mortuary school students, infant mortality conferences and child death review teams. 

 

Training first responders to treat parents in a compassionate manner during this crisis continues to be a major focus of our education.  When investigators are knowledgeable about SIDS and unexpected infant deaths and treat parents in a nonjudgmental manner, this lessens the chance that the family will be traumatized by the death scene investigation.  Careful explanation of procedures and compassion for the surviving family help tremendously.

 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, sometimes called SIDS, or crib death

 is the �sudden death of an apparently healthy infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history� (Willinger, et al., 1991).

 

For parents who are expecting a baby or who have a newborn at home, the idea of this phenomenon can provoke concern and confusion.  Parents want to know what causes SIDSSIDS Expecting and what they can do to ensure that their child will not become of the 3,000 infants who die of SIDS each year in the United States.  Unfortunately, at this time, the cause or causes of SIDS is still unknown.  Most researchers now believe that babies who die of SIDS are born with one or more conditions that make them vulnerable to both internal and external stresses that occur in the normal life of an infant. 

 

While the medical community cannot predict which infants will be SIDS victims, or what causes one child and not another to die from SIDS, many researchers through years of work have determined some factors that are not causes of SIDS.

 

SIDS IS NOT: 

  • Caused by vomiting and choking, or minor illnesses such as colds or infections.

  • Caused by diptheria, pertussis, tetanus (DTP) vaccines, or other immunizations.

  • Contagious.

  • Hereditary.

  • Child abuse.

  • The cause of every unexpected infant death.

SIDS IS:

  • The major cause of death in infants from 1 month to 1 year of age, with most deaths occurring between 2 and 4 months.

  • Sudden and silent�the victim was seemingly healthy.

  • Currently, unpredictable and unpreventable.

  • A death that occurs quickly, with no signs of suffering, and is usually associated with sleep.

  • A syndrome the first symptom of which is death.

  • Determined only after an autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the case history.

  • A post-mortem diagnosis established by exclusion.

  • A recognized medical disorder listed in the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision (ICD-9).

  • An infant death that leaves unanswered questions and, thus, causes intense grief for parents and families.

 

Knowing that an apparently healthy baby can die of SIDS is frightening for parents.  To help ensure that their child is born healthy, parents should take good physical care of themselves.  Researchers now know that the mother�s health and behavior during her pregnancy and the baby�s health before birth seem to influence the occurrence of SIDS, but these variables are not reliable in predicting how, when, why or if SIDS will occur.  Maternal risk factors include cigarette smoking during pregnancy; maternal age less than 20 years; poor prenatal care; low weight gain; anemia; use of illegal drugs; and history of sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection.  These factors, which often may be subtle and undetected, suggest that SIDS is somehow associated with a harmful prenatal environment.

This picture is used with Permission of  "Tomorrow's Child, Michigan SIDS"

 

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