What you need to know about SIDS

SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs.
Although the cause is unknown, it appears that SIDS may be associated with abnormalities in a portion of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.
A combination of physical and sleep environmental factors can make an infant more vulnerable to SIDS. These factors may vary from child to child.
Physical factors associated with SIDS include:
* Brain abnormalities. Some infants are born with problems that make them more likely to die of SIDS. In many of these babies, the portion of the brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep doesn’t work properly.
* Low birth weight. Premature birth or being part of a multiple birth increases the likelihood that a baby’s brain hasn’t matured completely, so he or she has less control over such automatic processes as breathing and heart rate.
* Respiratory infection. Many infants who died of SIDS recently had a cold, which may contribute to breathing problems.
During pregnancy, the risk of SIDS is also affected by the mother, especially if she:
* Is younger than 20.
* Smokes cigarettes.
* Uses drugs or alcohol.
* Has inadequate prenatal care.
After losing a baby to SIDS, getting emotional support is critical. You may feel guilty as well as grief, and you’ll be dealing with the mandatory police investigation into cause of death.
You may find it comforting to talk to other parents whose lives have been touched by SIDS.
If you can, let friends and family know how you’re feeling. People want to help, but they may not know how to approach you.
As the baby’s parents, be as open as possible with each other. Losing a child can put a terrible strain on a marriage. Counselling may help some couples understand and express their feelings.
* Information courtesy of MayoClinic.

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