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It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. A seemingly healthy baby is put down for a nap, or for the night. The child is assumed well and in a protected environment. The caregiver feels secure, their world in order.

Suddenly, everything is turned upside down. The baby is found dead, the cause a total mystery. Often, the infant is fed normally just before being placed in bed. No outcry is heard, and the infant is found in the position he or she was placed.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the biggest killer of babies over one month old in the rich world. Despite marked reductions in rates of SIDS over the past decade, SIDS is still responsible for more infant deaths in the United States than any other cause of death during infancy beyond the newborn period.

Most sudden infant deaths occur at home, forcing parents and siblings to witness and live with the memory of a terrible tragedy, and scenes of intense confusion. In the absence of answers, parents who are innocent of blame feel responsible nonetheless, and spend the days and months ahead torturing themselves imagining ways in which they might have contributed to or prevented the tragedy.

*

Despite decades of extensive research, no explanation has proved satisfactorily complete. By definition, the child is dead when the diagnosis is made. That means researchers usually have only post-mortem data about the symptoms to go on. Therefore our understanding of the causes of SIDS remains partial.

We know what SIDS is not. It is not caused by contagious disease, or by immunizations. Neither is it the result of vomiting or choking. It cannot be predicted by “near-SIDS” events, what doctors call “apparent life-threatening events.” There is absolutely no evidence that home apnea monitors are an effective strategy for preventing SIDS.

Doctors define SIDS as the sudden death of a previously healthy infant under one year of age that remain unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including examination of the death scene, a review of the child’s medical history, and performance of a complete autopsy that include X-rays and a wide range of laboratory tests.

SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion. Heart conditions, infections, aspiration, metabolic disorders, toxin or drug exposure, suffocation, and trauma all must have been excluded in order for doctors to assign SIDS as the cause of death. Intentional suffocation, or child abuse, is felt to account for between only 1 to 5 percent of SIDS cases, and seldom is suspected except when the age of death is older than 6 months.

*

Nine in ten sudden infant deaths occur in the first six months of life, most often between two and four months. It is rare in the first month, for reasons not yet fully understood, and uncommon beyond age six months.

SIDS occurs at higher rates in African-Americans, and in some Native American populations. Male infants are one and half times more affected than females. Babies who were premature, or were of low birth weight, are also at higher risk.

SIDS is more likely to strike babies of young mothers, and mothers who received late or no prenatal care. Most significantly, infants of mothers who smoked during pregnancy or afterwards have a six-fold greater risk of SIDS. The more an infant is exposed to cigarette smoke, the greater the risk. The most likely explanation is that nicotine may blunt the baby’s brain response to low oxygen.

Other known risk factors include: the prone sleep position (“tummy sleeping”), sleeping on a soft surface, and overheating.

Finally, bed sharing has been proven to increase the risk of SIDS, primarily in very young babies whose mother smoke or drink, or use illicit substances or prescription medications that impair his or her ability to awaken. The risk of SIDS is also increased in the parent’s bed has an improper mattress, unsafe bedding, or has gaps between the mattress and headboard, footboard, or wall.

Bed sharing can also be hazardous if the mother is obese, leading to accidental suffocation of the infant, or if there are multiple bed-sharers. The highest risk to the infant occurs when adults sleep with an infant and on a sofa or in an armchair.

*

Prone, or tummy, sleeping is the most important modifiable risk factor for SIDS, increasing the risk 10- to 15-fold. Since 1994, the rate of SIDS in the United States has fallen by more than half, thanks to the national Back To Sleep public awareness campaign launched during that year by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Today, more than 80 percent of infants are placed on their back to sleep.

Yet too many caregivers, especially child care providers, babysitters, and relatives, are still placing infants to sleep on their tummy. Twenty to thirty percent of all SIDS deaths occur when the infant is in the care of a non-parental caregiver, and this number has held constant over the past two decades.

In fact, the greatest risk of SIDS is when an infant under six months who is normally placed to sleep non-prone is suddenly placed to sleep on his tummy, such as when in the care of an inexperienced or unfamiliar caregiver. Researchers have found this sudden reversal of sleep position to cause a 37 times greater risk of SIDS!

*

Safe sleep helps reduce SIDS. There are some simple actions every parent, child care provider, relative, and babysitter can take to lower the risk:

1.    Put babies on their backs (“supine”) to sleep every time, even for short daytime naps. While safer than tummy sleeping, side sleeping is nevertheless too risky, as babies can easily roll onto their tummy. Of course, tummy time is okay when the baby is awake and supervised.

2.    Insist that all temporary caregivers (babysitters, day care providers, and relatives) place your baby on his or her back to sleep, even if just for a short nap.

3.    Because babies can easily overheat, avoid wrapping the baby with lots of blankets and clothes, and keep the baby’s room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees. In the winter, use a blanket sleeper rather than adding layers of blankets for warmth.

4.    Babies’ breathing systems are not grown up yet. Babies can be smothered easily. Keep soft blankets, quilts, comforters, soft toys, stuffed animals, and pillows away from a baby’s sleeping space.

5.    Never put a baby to sleep on a soft surface such as a sofa, waterbed, pillow-top mattress, egg-crate mattress, sheepskin, pillow, or beanbag chair. Babies should be put to sleep only on a firm sleep surface, such as a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.

6.    While bed sharing can be made safe, it often is not. A separate but nearby sleeping place is safest. Select a crib, bassinet, or cradle that conforms to the “CPSC” recommendations. If bumper pads are used, they should be thin, firm, well-secured, and not “pillow-like”. Devices intended to keep babies on their backs or sides are not recommended.

7.    Never sleep with your baby on a couch or in a chair.

8.    Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime once successful breast feeding is established. Pacifiers reduced the risk of SIDS as much as threefold.

9.    Finally, create a smoke-free zone for a pregnant woman and for babies.

Removing risk factors decreases but does not eliminate the risk of SIDS. The syndrome can strike infants who do not have any risk factors, including those who sleep on their back.

Nevertheless, most SIDS cases upon investigation contain multiple identified risks, and risk-free SIDS cases are rare. Knowing this, please adopt the above-mentioned sleep practices in order to dramatically reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS.

Thank you for the lovely gift of your precious minutes spent reading.

Originally posted to StrangeAnimals on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 06:49 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Have to Think There's an Unrecognized (21+ / 0-)

    spectrum of this throughout the population.

    I have had frequent sleep paralysis all my life, and at least monthly it'll include a spell when my breathing is impaired either because I've rolled into a position where something is pressing on an airway, or possibly it's breathing coordination issues (it's hard to tell because I'm dreamy enough that my thinking and experience are a blend of dream and real world).

    I've often wondered if I was one of those babies who squeaked by. If so, if it's any consolation, my experience suggests that it either happens in complete unconsciousness, or if semi conscious, it's nowhere near the worst way to go.

    But jeez there's no good way to lose a child.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 07:08:49 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this (26+ / 0-)

    My sister's first baby died of SIDS. To this day, she hasn't forgiven herself.

    Of course it wasn't her fault, but you can imagine it's hard for her to see it that way.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 07:20:52 PM PST

  •  You Didn't Mention One Aspect of... (11+ / 0-)

    supine sleeping.

    Extreme stress to the parents!  My daughter had her first baby 2 years ago.  I had not paid attention to the "current" trends and was shocked at how stressed out my daughter became in her attempts to get my grandson to sleep on his back.  I was very lucky with my kids.  I could feed them, burp them, and put them on their stomach and heaven was at hand.  Her stress was so severe over this that I started checking with friends and was amazed to find all were distressed over the need to get their babies to sleep without putting them on their backs.  I even asked a close friend who was a doctor about the practice and he turned in to a robot quoting an Australian study.  His response was strange because he normally felt free to give independent opinions.  It was like he was concerned about being sued.

    I feel fortunate to have raised my kids in a simpler more naive time.

    •  What I tell parents (15+ / 0-)

      is that if their baby cannot sleep on her back, and if they want to place her prone, that so long as they do so on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet, and so long as there are no other risk factors (as discussed in the diary), they should feel reasonably safe in doing so.

      It is rare for SIDS to occur in the absence of additional risk factors besides prone sleep position, though I do remind them that there is no such thing as zero risk. For that matter, however, neither is there zero risk with the supine position.

      My youngest daughter would NOT sleep on her back as an infant, therefore my wife and I (both physicians) made a decision to place her on her tummy. She slept great during all naps and nights thereafter. Ironic that today, as a teen, she prefers to sleep on her back.

      Now are the days we've been working for.

      by StrangeAnimals on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 08:54:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  front vs. back (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StrangeAnimals

        My two kids wouldn't fall asleep on their backs, they kept startling themselves awake. Ended up putting them on their fronts.

        Luckily, the other risk factors weren't present during the pregnancies or after so I think we made the best decision we could. The fact that they were late by 2 weeks may have meant better developed systems.

        It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

        by fumie on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 10:34:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Fantastic comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StrangeAnimals

        Also, make sure there are no crib bumpers, and that the baby has plenty of access to clean air flowing through the crib.

      •  That's what we did with our first (0+ / 0-)

        She absolutely would not sleep on her back, so we had a crib futon made for her. It was hard, made with organic cotton, and did not contain any off-gasing chemicals (it used boric acid as its flame retardant).

        We used blanket sleepers, and for extra cold nights, one or two thin flannel blankets that were placed just below her shoulders, so there would be no stale air pockets near her facee. We also elevated the head end of the mattress by about 1/2", to help ensure that her airways would stay clear if she caught a cold.

    •  Mine both HATED sleeping on their backs. (9+ / 0-)

      They wanted to sleep with their back curved and cradled for the first six months.

      So while they had plenty of time on their tummies, being held, etc.... they slept in their car seat. Because that way they would sleep.

      Vert, a billet palewise or bearing three fleur-de-lys, two and one, sable, a bordure dancetty or. Numquam succumbe

      by Alexandra Lynch on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 09:56:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thank you (8+ / 0-)

    this was one of my greatest fears when my son was an infant.  and yes, he slept on his back, and had the adorable bald spot those babies get now ;-)  

    and had no other risk factors.  

  •  His name was Nick. (7+ / 0-)

    He was six month old and the son of good friends when he stayed with the husband and very young daughters of another very close friend while the parents participated in a demonstration at Expo 86. K put him down for the night and when he went back to check on him half an hour later he wasn't breathing but was still warm. K's CPR didn't bring him back.

    Today the parents have a healthy grown daughter, and K's daughters have grown to womanhood.

    Thank you for this. I am confident you have saved a life today.

                          Hugs,
                          Heather

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is doing it to whom.

    by Chacounne on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 04:26:31 AM PST

  •  My oldest brother lost his first son (11+ / 0-)

    to this.  The very first grandchild in our immediate family. I was in 2nd grade at the time and, when I finally understood that Brian was dead (not "gone" as they had tried to explain...) I blamed myself because during a visit with him earlier, I had very gently passed my hand across the top of his head.  Everyone freaked out, yelling at me about his soft spot.  So, when he died, I thought it was somehow my fault.

    Yi, thinking back, my brother and his wife were so young, JUST out of college and had "had" to get married...then to have this happen.  Heartbreaking.

    They had 2 more children, a boy and a girl, before their marriage ended.  My brother married again, and had another child, then adopted two!  

    I named one of my twin sons after my brother's lost son.  When I had them, the wisdom of the time was belly sleeping.  

    "We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering!" - The Shoveler

    by Pandoras Box on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 04:51:42 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this interesting diary. (4+ / 0-)

    I haven't seen you around for awhile. How are you doing?

    I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

    by TheFatLadySings on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 05:07:18 AM PST

    •  Well, thank you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw

      Yes, until posting a diary on Saturday I've been away for nine months or so, owing more to my busy life than to any reason related to the site. Thanks for noticing! I hope life finds you joyous and healthful.

      Now are the days we've been working for.

      by StrangeAnimals on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 07:04:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Family bed advocates... (4+ / 0-)

    ...claim that keeping a child in a family bed, between parents who are not chemically impaired, normal sleepers (no apnea, sleep disorders, etc) on an appropriately firm mattress actually reduces incidence of SIDS by giving children an example of normal sleeping breathing patterns which to emulate.  They also claim that a parent sleeping beside an infant will wake if they notice breathing irregularities in the infant.  

    •  bedsharing (2+ / 0-)

      I very much doubt that last.

      But the first part could well be true.  Even most of the studies and people who are all "OMGBEDSHARING" will argue that the safest possible arrangement is for the baby to sleep separately but very close (same room, at least).  It stands to reason that something about that proximity is protective, perhaps protective enough to cancel out any unpreventable dangers from bedsharing.  But there are no proper studies on it that I'm aware of save for those conducted by strong advocates of bedsharing, which most people dismiss as biased.  Statistics collected by government agencies tend to lump all SIDS deaths that occur in bedsharing situations together, including things like sleeping on the couch/baby on belly/caretaker passed out drunk/etc along with more innocuous situations.

      I really wish more advice was out there on how to make bedsharing maximally safe.  As it is, most people who do it do it wrong, and the resulting concern means that information doesn't get out there about how to do it right.  It's going to happen regardless, because it's human nature to want your baby close.  It can't be changed so easily with a campaign like back to sleep, even if the evidence were incontrovertible.

  •  For those whose babies won't sleep on their backs (3+ / 0-)

    We used a foam wedge to prop the baby on his or her side.  It cradles them front and back, and is small enough to go nowhere near their faces.

    All three of mine slept great with it.  Of course, the sleep disturbances that came later didn't have anything to do with position, because once they can roll over themselves, all bets are off.

    Thank you for an informative diary.  I hope those who need to read it do so.

  •  I researched SIDS recently (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bigjacbigjacbigjac

    What I found was that using a special mattress wrapping ( a specially formulated polyethylene cover) has been shown to have a fantastic success rate.

    From this article
    http://www.healthychild.com/...

    A 100% successful crib death prevention campaign has been going on in New Zealand for the past 11 years. Midwives and other healthcare professionals throughout New Zealand have been actively advising parents to wrap mattresses. During this time, there has not been a single SIDS death reported among the over 100,000 New Zealand babies who have slept on mattresses wrapped in a specially formulated polyethylene cover.

    I couldn't tell you if this is completely effective at solving the problem, but it is at very least an easy precaution that can be taken.

    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

    by deviant24x on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 05:57:59 AM PST

    •  Mattress fumes are not the cause (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrangeAnimals

      As the mother of a new baby, I did a loy of research on this issue.  The mattress cover is a scam.  The statistics quoted are not reliable, and the theory that SIDS is caused by fumes from mattresses is not supported by any scientific evidence.  As far as I can tell, this one guy in New Zealand is claiming a lot of things that are untrue and not backed up by research.

      Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not the end.

      by super ju on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:48:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wouldn't be surprised if you're right (0+ / 0-)

        Have there been any studies on this though? I was searching all over to try and find some kind of relevant study either for or against but there isn't any major research that I could see.
        The theory would explain why there is an increased likelihood of SIDS with babies that sleep on their stomachs.
        Like I said, I couldn't confirm one way or the other, but any kind of theory that isn't completely ludicrous is worth a look.

        Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

        by deviant24x on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 11:31:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know if I trust that. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      super ju, Nespolo, StrangeAnimals

      It links to sites that sell the mattress wrappings, at very high prices (relative to the cost of the raw material, anyway).  And I've never ever heard anything about it in mainstream discussions of SIDS -- you'd think with such a dramatic claimed result there would be something.

  •  I lost my first grand son (10+ / 0-)

    to sids, at 3 months.

    I wasn't there, but my daughter had seen me put him to sleep on his tummy many times.

    It was 12 years ago, and I don't think she will ever forgive me. I certainly can't forgive myself for not being more informed.

    I had 3 healthy babies. Just thought I knew what I was doing.

    If it doesn't lead to your happiness, don't do it.

    by magicsister on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:19:04 AM PST

    •  So sorry (7+ / 0-)

      I know a random dkos commenter can't say anything you haven't heard before,  but this is not your fault.  We human beings cannot know everything, and cannot prevent every accident.  We search for someone to blame, some thing we could have done differently that would have spared us the pain, but the truth is that sometimes pain comes to us that is no one's fault.  The loss is a tremendous burden to bear.  

      Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not the end.

      by super ju on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:54:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't blame yourself... (5+ / 0-)

      My two boys were terrible sleepers as babies and toddlers.

      I did some of the things you aren't supposed to.

      They slept on their stomachs...because if they didn't, we had to do this incredible dance of getting them to sleep in our arms and then laying them down on their backs.  Falling asleep on their backs just did not happen.

      I breast fed #2 and he fell asleep.  When I went back in to check on him, he was gone!  I pulled the quilt off the bed and he had tunneled to the foot of the bed.  Almost had a panic attack.

      It turns out this type of inability to calm themselves is common among autistic children.  As infants they'd wiggle forward until their heads were pressed firmly against something.  (This is where gaps are dangerous.) As toddlers, they'd wiggle, kick and bounce their way to sleep.

      I always wondered if I'd end up with a SIDS death because my contrary kids wanted nothing more than to sleep with their bums in the air and their heads pressed up against the wall or head board.

      Show me the POLICY!

      by Fabian on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 08:40:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I first learned about grief, (5+ / 0-)

    (for example,
    that grief hurts,
    even many years later)
    I first learned about such things from a college professor,
    a sociology professor,
    who had lost a child to
    sudden infant death syndrome.

    He talked about buying Christmas gifts
    for the deceased child,
    for years after his death.

    I've learned firsthand
    about grief,
    since my father died,
    and my wife,
    Pam,
    died,
    about three years ago.

  •  My son was a near SIDS (12+ / 0-)

    New Years Day 1990. A Monday. We had gone out for New Years Eve the night before, our first evening away from our 2 children.
    It was 4 pm. I was tired. My 3 yr old daughter had torn paper up the night before and scattered it all over our living room. My 3 month old son had just been fed and changed (by my husband) and was sitting in his baby chair (the kind that you used with very little babies).

    Had this been a normal Monday I would have put him down for a nap after a feed and let him fuss a bit if he needed to sleep.

    I was trying to gear up the energy to pick up the paper.
    All of the sudden my son started to cry in a strange way. I picked him up to comfort him and tried various ways to settle him down but he wouldn't be helped.

    I wondered if his little boy parts were somehow pinched in his diaper so I laid him down on my lap to check that out.

    When I removed his diaper I was shocked to see that the area beneath the diaper looked lavender.

    I called to my husband to get my mother to come and check on him. She lived with us. On the day my son was born it was the 50th anniversary of the day my mother had entered nursing school. She was still an active nurse at the time including time spent doing midwifery and working in the NICU.

    Had it been a normal Monday both she and my husband would have been at work.

    In a minute or two my mother came into the room. She took charge laying a changing pad down on the sofa and placing my son upon it on his back. The lavender was more widespread. suddenly he stopped crying and lay back flaccid, white and waxy.

    My mother told me to call 911 and she to tell me again because I was having a hard time comprehending what she had said and asked if she wanted me to call the doctor.

    So while I called 911 she performed CPR on him. All the time she was thinking this baby just died and what could she tell his parents.

    The firemen came first. All of them at least 6'4" and towering over me. They watched my mother perform CPR on my silent baby. They agreed the baby looked "shitty" and needed to go to hospital. They radioed in a message urging the ambulance to get there STAT.

    I watched all this in a state of utter disbelief, outwardly calm for my daughter who was sitting (quietly, as asked) in a chair. next to the sofa.

    What had happened?

    In the emergency room the doctor looking at my son who was now crying said that he had a cold. so of course he had stopped breathing. (Explain the evolutionary value of that, someone please.)

    We spent 5 days at the hospital fighting with hospital personnel who had decided that my son had had a cold and I had overreacted. They acted as if my mother couldn't possibly have known what she was doing.

    My sister was a intern at the time. One of her room mates was in a pediatrics rotation and she was gathering all the information she could.

    My pediatrician was on holiday but another of her classmates was doing a rotation with him so we managed to get ahold of him. He didn't have privileges at the hospital we were at so he didn't come to see him.

    My sister asked to see his chart and was told that it wasn't allowed. She retorted that it was according to our Charter of Rights. They kept trying to block her, including saying in the most patronizing was possible way that when she was doctor she "would understand" and she said again Charter of Rights.

    Finally they allowed her to go over the chart.

    They couldn't find anything wrong, which my sister pointed out was a good thing because you didn't want to find a problem and they finally wanted to send us away. But she pointed out that some of the results could have indicated a problem which they just disregarded. (She also said that if he had had the possible problem "he'd be dead by now" so I was to worry about it, but the hospital wouldn't have known that when they first had the results.)
    The only thing they could come up with was aborted or near SIDS.

    He was on a heart and breathing monitor the whole time. The rates seemed to me to be somewhat erratic but when I spoke with personnel they just poopooed my concern and explained how the machine worked.

    When they tried to send us home they gave us instructions on how to pick up a monitor he was expected to use for the next year to monitor his heart and breathing. It was the end of the day and they expected us, two exhausted parents, to make it through that first night without it. We refused.

    We got the monitor and settled into sleeping in shifts so that one cold keep an ear out and the other could really sleep. The alarm went off nightly at first, but generally this was because the leads would get loose or something. This got worse as he became more active. (Also the range of the rates of his heart beats and breathing settled down into a much more narrow range than when he was in hospital.)

    After about 5 months with him doing well I made the decision that I wouldn't live in terror and that we'd take the device off. We would choose to live as though he would survive.

    And he did.

    He was always an early bird, up before his two siblings or even us. Very occasionally he would sleep in. I would wake up and realize that he hadn't come in to wake us and I would go to check on him, my heart struggling with dread. Would today be the day when the fates caught up with him?

    Well, knock on wood, they haven't caught him yet. He's 21. That New Year's Day my mother saved my son. The incident also brought me my third child the following December, so even good things comes out of bad.

  •  My heart goes out to all who have lost (5+ / 0-)

    My son, now four, slept on his back without a pillow, though occasionally when he was little I'd doze on the couch with him sleeping on my chest.

    Of course, now he doesn't care for pillows or blankets, but that is a small price to pay for peace of mind when he was an infant.

    Two things are universal--hydrogen and stupidity. --Frank Zappa

    by AustinCynic on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 08:09:39 AM PST

  •  For both our kids' first birthdays we (3+ / 0-)

    also celebrated it as "freedom from SIDS day"

  •  thank you for this. (8+ / 0-)

    His name was Phillip, age 3 months.

    I'm taking my country back !!! To the 80's, when I had more hair.

    by Schwede on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 08:45:01 AM PST

  •  My sister lost her second child to SIDS; (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nespolo, StrangeAnimals

    and it's impossible to exaggerate how devastating this is to the entire household. Many parents suffer crushing guilt for years, wondering what they might have done differently, "if only I'd checked on him/her in the night". Surviving sibs can be smothered by (completely understandable) parental worry; my sister's first child and their subsequent third child were cocooned and coddled to a degree that was not helpful for their future development.

    And while there are indeed risk factors for SIDS, it cannot be reiterated too often: the parents did not cause this event. It is not their fault. They did not bring this tragedy on themselves through sins of commission or omission.

    It should be noted that the SIDS rate in the U.S. fell precipitously as soon as back-sleeping was introduced and emphasized as one intervention to reduce the risk. The remaining cases likely are due to multiple separate etiologies, and teasing out possible causes from the confounded data set is a huge challenge for future research.

  •  in the 80's they had opposite advice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrangeAnimals

    When my kids were born in the early 80's they said to prevent sids put them on the tummy, now they say that can cause it.
    I have 3 kids and 2 grandchildren and I think every parent worries about SIDS to some extent. My youngest grandson is 4 months so I feel he is over the hump.
    Luckily with better per natal  care and  education things are getting better.

  •  SIDS Fear Keeps Me Up at Night (0+ / 0-)

    One of the things that we bought that I can't recommend highly enough is the Angelcare monitor, that not only performs the usual task of a sound monitor, but also detects breathing and the slightest motion so that if it doesn't detect either every few seconds, it sounds an alarm. It's expensive, and on rare occasions the baby moves off the sensor pad's range in his/her sleep, giving you a false alarm, but it was worth every penny to us.

    These are the demands and sayings of Lee!

    by Red Sox on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 10:55:47 AM PST

  •  Great post! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrangeAnimals

    SIDS is a parent's worst nightmare...  We co-sleep (higher risk) as safely as possible, but I still always worry!

    We've made it to 9 months, so our risk category has dropped dramatically.

    We've got serious work to do. Health care and civil rights for all, please!

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 10:59:16 AM PST

  •  my wife thinks I'm nuts (2+ / 0-)

    but every night I put our 10 1/2 month old to sleep for the night; I do it as if he will never wake up again; ie many "I love you's" and "thank you" for bring so much joy into our lives.  And every morning he wakes up I am so, so grateful almost to the point of tears.  

    The fact we can lose our children at any time; even for no reason or for no fault of our own;  it makes their lives and the parents lives that much more precious and rich.  

    Worrying ourselves to near death is the wrong approach.  And I rejected that approach very early on when I realized there is just too much to worry about.  

    He slept in our bed until about 6 months old; in a bedside cosleeper but mostly on his side next to his mommy's breast which he had access to on demand.  SIDS was a concern but we swallowed our fears and followed our instincts which told us this was best for him.  

    Have you visited your local baker today?

    by Must Have Been The Roses on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 11:01:36 AM PST

  •  This diary reminded me of a tragic happening in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Schwede, StrangeAnimals

    my girlhood.  I was at school with a girl who lost her first baby to SIDS.

    And "girl" she was, too.  She was in the 9th grade.  In those pre-Pill days of 1957, kids who wanted to have sex would run off, lie about their age, and get married.  That's what she did.  She was allowed to attend the 9th grade at our junior high as long as she didn't talk about "it."

    Well, the summer after 9th grade, she had a baby that subsequently died of SIDS.  It was so sad.  I never saw that girl again but I still remember her maiden name and her married name, and I sometimes wonder what happened to her after that.

    I may be heterosexual, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

    by Neferhuri on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 01:27:28 PM PST

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