Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/Cot Death- A Deep Study
A mother put her healthy baby to sleep inside the crib and next morning she found the baby dead without any prior notice or symptoms. This unexplained death of babies is coined as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or Cot death (UK, Ireland, Australia, India, South Africa and New Zealand) or Crib death (North America).
Basically, an infant is found dead in his bed without any signs of suffering. The reasons behind SIDS are still unexplained and hence it is also termed as Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI).
In India, cot deaths are very unlikely but it is common in western countries though awareness for SUDI has shown the decreased percentage of infant deaths.
Babies from 2-6 months age are more likely to suffer from cot deaths. It is said that a particular brain stem Medulla Oblongata which controls breathing, blood pressure and arousal (waking) start showing abnormalities and fails to develop cells which can receive serotonin.
This is a most common reason for cot deaths. Few other risk factors too have been identified which trigger SIDS in infants.
Making babies sleep at stomach position causes them inhaling used carbon dioxide. It is a fatal act leading to suffocation and hence death.
Smoking is also found out to be one of the main causes elevating SIDS rates. According to US Surgeon General’s report, smoking increases nicotine and cotinine in babies’ blood which triggers the SIDS causes.
Low birth weight (less than 2.5 kg)
Absence of breastfeeding
Inappropriate room temperature
Unwanted stuffs on the baby’s bed
Sleeping with parents or siblings can cause suffocation.
Although the mechanism is unclear yet it enhances the chances of cot deaths.
Premature birth (37weeks gestation)
Cervical spinal injury during birth
Male babies are more likely to suffer from SIDS as they have lesser serotonin receptors than female babies.
Although SIDS reasons still need lots of research but few precautions can be done to slash down the rate of SIDS. Put babies to sleep on their back. Breastfeeding helps in reducing SIDS by around 50%. Keep the cot clean and warm.
Use sleep sacks/sleep bags. Recent researches have shown a greater value of sleep bags as they prevent babies from rolling over on to their stomach. These bags keep babies in recommended sleeping position.
Maintain the room temperature. Avoid bumper pads as they cause babies to re-inhale used carbon dioxide which is fatal.