Little Nick was supposedly sleeping, but never woke up
Little Nick, was lying on his stomach playing happily with his rubber ducky, when he suddenly yawned, stretched his limbs and rolled over to position himself for his regular morning nap. Alana, Nick’s mom, saw her baby’s droopy eyes and smiled. A quick glance at her watch told her that she had about an hour to herself before her little one would wake up for his next feeding.
But Nick, just four months old, didn’t wake up from that nap. And no one, not even the doctor, knew what happened to him.
Although rare, death of a healthy infant with no apparent cause does occur. What happened to little Nick is what doctors call the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS, which affects 1 out of every 100,000 infants.
Every parent’s fear
SIDS usually takes place while a baby is asleep. This is the reason why it is also called ‘crib death.’ Victims of SIDS are usually below four months of age and of male gender.
The idea of one’s baby dying while asleep is enough to make any parent anxious. No known cause, no proven method of prevention — it’s like having not just an invincible opponent, but an invisible one, as well.
Experts say that SIDS may be purely biological, a sort of abnormality in the brain that disrupts the normal rhythm of the heart or flow and pressure of blood while the baby is in deep sleep. Nonetheless, even with these findings, it gives no assurance to parents that their babies will get past the critical SIDS stage.
Prevention — the only possible cure
Is there a cure for it? Sadly, no. There’s even no proven method of prevention.
However, there are some basic guidelines that doctors recommend. They may not be the ultimate answer for SIDS, but they can help reduce the occurrence of SIDS as much as 50 per cent.
1 – Eat right and stay healthy during pregnancy
Studies show that a number of SIDS victims have low birth weight, less than 1.5 KG and a smoker for a mother. Eat right, don’t drink and smoke, get enough sleep and your baby is one step away from SIDS and other forms of birth abnormalities.
2 – Breastfeed, if you can
There’s not enough data that could confirm the power of breastfeeding against SIDS. But one thing is for sure, there’s low rate of SIDS death for breastfed babies.
3 – “Back” to sleep
Placing babies on their backs to sleep is the single most important step that parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.
4 – No smoking, please
If you have kept yourself from smoking while you were pregnant, please do the same while your little one is around. Studies have shown that babies who inhale second-hand cigarette smoke are at high-risk for SIDS.
5 – Keep baby’s sleeping area safe
Firm mattress, less sheets and stuffed toys, and no bumper pads — your baby’s crib should have less stuff in it as much as possible. Soft couches, thick, flat sheets and toys may smother a baby in his sleep. When in the cot, place your baby in the ‘feet to foot’ position so there’s less chance of him slipping beneath the bedding.
6 – Sleep close with your baby
It is a known fact that an infant’s breathing is unstable, most especially in the first few months of life. Keeping your baby within arm’s reach allows you to take action immediately whenever there are changes in breathing patterns. You don’t have to co-sleep with your baby if the safety of co-sleeping concerns you. Just move in your baby’s crib or bassinet to your room and position it next to your bedside.
Fear SIDS not
SIDS is scary, yes, but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your time with your baby. In fact, it is not even on the list of top ten deadly diseases. Diarrhea is far scarier than SIDS; it’s one of the leading causes of death in infants. Spend more time with your little one, take heed of the suggested preventive methods and have a good night sleep yourself.