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Five Things to Help Avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

SIDS is a frightening word to parents of newborns.  There is so little concrete knowledge about SIDS, as every case is different.  However, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the chances of your infant dying of SIDS.  Here are five ways you can reduce the risk of SIDS.

  1. Good prenatal care is one of the first things you can do to help prevent SIDS.  A low birth weight can often contribute to SIDS.  So mothers who are careful about their prenatal care and nutrition can have a healthier baby.  Avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol while pregnant also reduces the risk of SIDS.  It has also been shown that having two babies in one year can raise the risk of SIDS for the second infant.  Teen mothers have a higher risk of their infant dying of SIDS.
  2. Having the right bedding for the crib is crucial to reducing the risk of SIDS.  Putting the baby to sleep on the back, and using a firm mattress with a tight fitting sheet, is the first step.  Despite everyone loving those cute comforter and bumper pad sets, they are best left out of the crib.  The bumper pad reduces the amount of fresh air circulating around the baby.  Both sleeping on the stomach and the comforter being too close to the face can cause the baby to rebreathe too much carbon dioxide, which is a significant factor in SIDS.
  3. Use sleepers or baby sacks to help keep the baby warm on cold nights instead of a blanket.  However, if the infant is too warm, that can also contribute to SIDS.  It is important to find the proper balance.
  4. Some studies have shown that pacifiers help reduce the occurrence of SIDS.  The pacifier helps keep the air passage open. It also helps keep things away from the infant’s mouth and nose.  This can help prevent suffocation.
  5. Avoiding second-hand smoke also reduces the risk of SIDS.  Studies by the Surgeon General have shown that, “Infants who die from SIDS tend to have higher concentration of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine (a biological marker for second-hand smoke exposure) than infants who die from other causes.”
  6. Breastfeeding has also been shown to help reduce the risk of SIDS, although some experts do not feel it is the breastfeeding itself that reduces the risk of SIDS.  However, there are fewer breastfed babies than formula babies who have died of SIDS.  Breastfed babies tend to have a lower rate of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, both of which can contribute to SIDS.

While there are no guarantees and no single definable cause of SIDS, anything you can do to reduce the risks is worth it. Most of the things are common sense and good health habits.  Take the time to make a few changes to prevent a possible life of heartache.