SIDS

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? I try to think back on what I thought about SIDS prior to loosing Grey and it is hard to remember what I knew or what I thought I knew about SIDS. When I would think of all the potential things that could happen to my son it was not at the top of my list. I remember getting so scared that he would get kidnapped. I stayed up some nights thinking about how could I put a tracking device on him. What if I turned my back for a second at the store or at the park? What if someone was babysitting him and they didn’t have their eyes on him for a few minutes? A babysitter will not love him or worry about him the way that I will. What if he runs behind a car that is backing up or chokes on a toy? How will I keep him safe when we go to the lake? I would think of endless possible scenarios and how I would prevent them from happening.

We practiced all safe sleep practices; have baby in a bassinet by your bed, don’t let baby get too hot, don’t put baby on soft sleep surface– check, check, check. Baby monitor -check. Breastfeed- check. Nothing in the crib with baby while sleeping, don’t let baby co-sleep with parents– check, check. Saying the words, “SIDS prevention tips” makes me crazy and so, so mad. See, the reality is there is NO WAY to prevent SIDS. That is a tough sentence to write and a very hard reality, I question that truth often. How is it even possible? Why does a healthy baby go to sleep and not wake up? The reality of losing your child to SIDS, to not having an actual answer as to why your child died, is incredibly painful. Trust me, I asked all the questions. I made sure that no stone was unturned in figuring out what happened to Grey. When I spoke to the medical examiner on the phone she told me that babies that die from SIDS simply shut off. I asked her if anything was blocking his airway and she assured me that she would be able to tell from the autopsy if something was. She told me that we did nothing wrong and that there was nothing that we could do.

So what is it? Here are the facts….

  • Major cause of death in infants 1 month to 1 year of age, with most deaths occurring between 2 and 4 months.
  • Sudden and silent– the infant is seemingly healthy
  • A death often associated with sleep and with no sings of suffering
  • A recognized medical disorder
  • Determined only after an autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the infants and family’s clinical histories.
  • An infant death that leaves unanswered questions, causing intense grief for parents and families.

What it is not…

  • Preventable
  • Suffocation
  • Caused by vomiting and choking or by minor illness
  • Caused by vaccines or other immunizations
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • The cause of every unexpected infant death
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The Triple Risk Model

Research that is being conducted to find an answer has several different theories or risks that can lead up to the event. There is the Triple Risk Model as per the above graphic– it is not one thing that will cause a SIDS death but several risk factors that all have to align at the same time. The biggest and most promising research being done is on brain abnormalities in our babies, “infants who die of SIDS may have abnormalities in several parts of the brainstem.” The research also states, “infants were found to have decreased binding of serotonin in the nucleus raphe obscurus { }, as well as four other brain regions.” Basically, a disconnect between the brain the the respiratory system -they stop communicating and breathing stops. Our babies arousal alert system stops and they don’t know that they are in danger. This is why all the emphasis put on the safe sleep campaign rubs me the wrong way. Babies are still dying and, I believe, we are not looking into the other reasons with as much vigor. It is so easy to promote safe sleep, it is simple, understandable and easy to communicate the message. When we start taking about brain abnormalities and the respiratory system it gets difficult to understand and explain. I have learned that 20% of babies that die from SIDS are in child care, was that his outside stressor? The questions can be endless and the heartbreak is tremendous. More money and time needs to be put into research to unlock the mystery of SIDS. Please see the links below for more information.

Research used was taken from Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance website: What is SIDS (PDF). 

https://www.nwsids.org/

http://sidsguild.org/

https://news.microsoft.com/features/love-aaron-children-may-susceptible-sids/

https://owletcare.com/

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Tummy time – March 12, 2017

 

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