Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS, is the leading cause of infant deaths aged 1-12 months. SIDS is not a disease or a medical condition, it is a diagnosis resulting from infants who die suddenly and unexpectedly. The most frequent age that infants are affected by SIDS is between 2-4 months. In Canada, 90% SIDS cases occur when the infant is under 6 months old. Approximately 1 out of 2,000 infants a year are lost because of this medical anomaly.
SIDS is also called ‘crib death’, this is because most cases of SIDS occur when the infant is asleep at night in their crib. Despite the name ‘crib death’, SIDS can occur outside of the crib. Infants can be effected at any time of day, whether they are asleep in their stroller, or having nap time in a loved one’s arms.
What makes SIDS particularly frightening for parents and loved ones is that there is no known cause of death, even after a thorough investigation. This investigation includes a death scene investigation, a post-mortem examination, and a review of the infant’s medical history. SIDS can happen without warning, but there are preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk and ensure a Safer Sleep environment for your baby. Visit our Safer Sleep page to learn more about prevention methods. (target_blank)
No one knows why SIDS occurs, some medical professionals have suggested that there could be an under development in the part of the brain that controls breathing and arousal (this controls waking.) These infants would not be able to respond properly if they were to stop breathing in their sleep from natural causes, or due to an obstruction of their airways. Although this is not a certain cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, we expect to see more development of this theory in the upcoming years.
Here is what we know so far:
- SIDS cannot be predicted or prevented.
- Neglect or child abuse do not cause SIDS.
- SIDS is not caused by choking, vomiting or suffocation.
- Vaccinations do not cause SIDS.
- SIDS is not hereditary, nor is it a new medical condition, it has been around for many generations, but the numbers are reducing.
- There is most likely more than one cause of SIDS.
- SIDS happens quickly and quietly, it doesn’t appear to cause the infant any suffering.
The good news is that over the past few generations the frequency of SIDS in Canada has declined, and continues to do so. The research done in this field has greatly contributed to the awareness of this medical anomaly which is a major contributing factor in this decline. Medical professionals continue to research this topic in hopes of discovering more about how we can reduce the risk of SIDS in households all over the world.
Help continue this important research and keep the declining numbers of Canadian families affected by SIDS going down, donate today.
Undetermined – Since 2009 coroners and medical examiners across the country and world have shifted their language to use the term “Undetermined” to classify what were previously called SIDS/SUDI/SUID. The language used to talk about SIDS is very confusing, and the public, professionals and official bodies all seem to use words and phrases differently. Now SUID and SUDI (sudden unexpected death in infancy), and “undetermined” are used to describe what would have previously been called SIDS only a few years ago.
SIDS Calgary Society feels very strongly that “SIDS” is still the best name to describe sudden and unexpected death in infancy, and that the use of the term SIDS is the best way to ensure parents receive support and that research continues.
As well as trying to help SIDS parents, and trying to reduce the number SIDS deaths, SIDS Calgary Society also wants to reduce accidental deaths in babies.
Make sure that your baby’s crib or bassinette meets up-to-date Canadian government standards. Any covering on the baby should be light and should be fitted and tucked into the end and sides of the bed. Any blankets or sheets shouldn’t go past your baby’s armpits.
The crib or bassinet should never be cluttered and pillows and stuffed animals should be removed from the crib while your baby is sleeping. Do not use bumper pads; there is no evidence that they help, and they provide an extra risk for the baby.
There has been a great deal of concern about babies and adults sleeping in the same bed. Breast feeding or comforting may be done in bed, but for sleeping it’s important to return your baby to their crib. Sleeping together on the couch or in a recliner is an even higher risk for SIDS so be cautious when relaxing with your baby.
The Canadian “Back to Sleep” Campaign started in 1993, and had a 50% decrease in SIDS deaths.
Accidental Suffocation can occur when:
- An infant’s nose and/or mouth gets covered by soft bedding or pillows. Make sure that your baby’s crib is approved, and the mattress is firm. Bedding such as blankets should be fitted and tucked into the end and sides of the bed. Any blankets or sheets shouldn’t go past your baby’s armpits, pillows and stuffed animals should be removed from the crib while your baby is sleeping.
- Overlay is when another person rolls on top of the infant while they’re sleeping. This can be easily prevented. Do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Breast feeding or comforting may be done in bed, but for sleeping it’s important to return your baby to their crib. Sleeping together on the couch or in a recliner is also a risk for overlay, so be cautious when relaxing with your baby.
- Wedging or entrapment is where an infant may be caught between two objects such as a mattress, the wall, or even furniture. To prevent this, make sure that the baby’s crib is approved. Do not purchase bumper pads, there is no evidence that they help with wedging or entrapment, and they provide an extra risk for suffocation.
- Strangulation may also occur, for example, if an infant’s head and neck get caught between crib railings. To prevent this, again, purchase an approved crib.