If the death of an infant remains unexplained even after an autopsy and careful examination of medical history, then this death is referred to as SIDS.
Women who smoke or take drugs such as cocaine or heroin during pregnancy put their baby at great risk for SIDS. Premature babies, babies suffering from apnea (abnormal breathing pattern), babies who have a family history of SIDS and those who sleep on their stomachs are at high risk for SIDS.
In India, SIDS is an uncommon occurrence. It is prevalent both in urban as well as rural India but the instances of unknown and unexpected death of infants are low as compared to western countries. As the cause of SIDS is unexplained and different doctors all over the world have different opinions regarding this syndrome, several myths have developed surrounding SIDS.
One of the myths is that the baby’s heart stops because of some dreams that they see. There are also several supernatural beliefs associated with SIDS.
The risk of SIDS can be reduced in the following ways:
- Sleep position of the baby should always be checked at regular intervals by the parents or the caregiver. The baby should always sleep on her back. Sleeping on the stomach increases chances if suffocation.
- It is better for a baby to sleep in a cot in the same room as the parents, but not share the same bed.
- Stay away from active of passive smoking during pregnancy. Do not smoke and do not let anyone else to smoke in your presence.
- Breastmilk nourishes the baby with all the nutrients that are required to stay healthy. It is also believed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
These are just precautionary measures and are not full-proof ways of preventing SIDS. Consult your pediatrician for further advice.