Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant—a child between one month and one year old. It is frightening because it is strikes without warning, and medical science has been unable to determine exactly why it happens.
Although researchers do not have all of the answers about SIDS, they have been able to determine the following strategies for reducing the risks:
- Get Regular Prenatal Care – Get regular prenatal care and do not smoke, drink, or take drugs while pregnant. This will help prevent premature birth and low birth weight—major risk factors for SIDS.
- Keep Babies Away from Cigarette Smoke – Do not let anyone smoke around your baby. Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are more than twice as likely to die from SIDS as babies not exposed to cigarette smoke.
- Put Infants to Sleep on Their Backs - Babies under the age of one should sleep on their backs—never on their stomachs—even for naps. Once babies are old enough to roll over, place them on their backs to sleep, but do not worry if they roll over and choose a different sleeping position.
- Put Infants to Sleep on a Firm Mattress – Infants should sleep on a firm mattress—either a crib or bassinet—in the same room with their parents. Place them in the bed without bumper pads, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals. Soft items in bed with a baby are major risk factors for SIDS.
- Do Not Overdress – Dress your baby in sleep clothing, such as a sleeper, for naps and bedtime. Keep his or her room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult in short sleeves so that he or she feels warm without a blanket or quilt. She should not feel hot to the touch—overheating is another risk factor for SIDS.
- Breastfeed – Breastfeed your baby if possible. Researchers are not sure why, but breastfed babies seem to be less susceptible to SIDS—perhaps breast milk provides some protection.
- Use a Pacifier – Offer the baby a pacifier at night, once breastfeeding is well established. However, if the baby does not like the pacifier, do not try to force it.
- Prevent Respiratory Illness – Wash your hands often, keep your baby’s things clean, and keep your baby away from those with respiratory illness. SIDS is often associated with minor colds and the flu.
The death of an infant due to SIDS is a devastating event that can leave parents feeling sad, guilty, angry, and confused. Unfortunately, researchers do not know what causes SIDS, but they have identified the items listed above as ways to reduce the risk factors. As a Georgetown child injury attorney at the Todd Law Firm, I encourage parents to follow SIDS prevention strategies and discuss them with childcare providers—grandparents, babysitters, and daycares—since a large proportion of SIDS deaths occur in childcare settings.
Although we all do our best to keep children safe, sometimes the worst happens and kids suffer major injuries. If your child has been seriously hurt and you need legal advice, call attorney David Todd at 512-472-7799 for a free case review. Alternatively, you can download a free copy of his book “Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Texas Accident Case” for more information.