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Sudden infant death syndrome: what it is and recommendations to avoid it

Sudden infant death syndrome: what it is and recommendations to avoid it

November 29, 2022

The arrival of a newborn baby in the world is always a reason for joy in a family. The care of this and the concern for their health will be topics that will invade the head of the parents during the first months and years of life.

However, there is a terrible condition that can cause the sudden death of the baby: Sudden infant death syndrome . In this article we will talk about him, about what can cause it and provide guidelines to avoid it.

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What is sudden infant death syndrome?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as sudden infant death , death in the cradle or white death; It is a strange event in which a child under the age of one and apparently healthy dies suddenly and without apparent explanation.


Usually, when this happens parents often find the dead newborn hours after bedtime and without apparent signs of having suffered any suffering. Since the death is sudden and without known causes, there is no previous symptomatology that can alert parents to the risk of this syndrome.

Finally, an indispensable condition for these cases to be considered as sudden infant death syndrome is that, after performing a complete autopsy and an investigation, the causes of the baby's death still have no explanation .

The steps to follow to make a correct evaluation of the case are: perform a complete autopsy, an exploration and recognition of the place of death and its circumstances and a comprehensive review of the medical history of the newborn and his family.


As for the incidence of this strange condition, most of the cases, specifically around 90%, usually occur between 2 and 6 months of age of the baby ; considerably increased the number of deaths in the winter months.

Although the syndrome of sudden infant death is the culprit of many fewer deaths than those caused by congenital disorders and disorders associated with premature births, it is considered the leading cause of death in babies a month old or older. without any kind of condition

The statistics show that in the European Union this syndrome occurs with a probability of between 1.5 and 2 deaths per 1,000. Also, if we focus only on Spain, this is the cause of between 0.15 and 0.23 deaths per 1,000 live births .

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Causes and risk factors

As mentioned above, the causes that lead to the sudden infant death syndrome are not yet known. However, some lines of research that relate this syndrome to various causes have recently been opened.


The two theories that are getting the most support from the medical community are those that relate the death of the baby with problems in the stimulation of sleep , that is, the baby could suffer some type of alteration in the ability to wake up.

The second hypothesis theorizes that the baby's organism would not have the ability to warn of the existence of an accumulation of carbon dioxide levels in the blood , the failure in this reflection would be what would take the baby to death.

However, the number of infant deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome has declined considerably in recent years. Specifically, since the health staff has emphasized the recommendations to put the baby on his back and never face down. So the posture to sleep, and facilitate breathing, could also be related.

Risk factor's

Among the risk factors associated with sudden infant death syndrome we found the following.

    • Exposure of the newborn to tobacco smoke. A large number of babies who die from this syndrome have nicotine and cotinine concentrations in their lungs that are higher than babies who died from other causes.
  • Laying the baby face down .
  • Ambient temperature too high.
  • Excessive use of bedding, cushions or stuffed animals.
  • Laying the baby on a mattress too soft .
  • Babies born to teenage mothers.
  • Consecutive pregnancies.
  • Poor nutrition of the mother during pregnancy .
  • Overweight in the mother.
  • Inadequate prenatal care.
  • Babies born of premature births.
  • Baby's sex SIDS appears more in children than in girls .
  • Be born with a weight less than 1.5 kg.
  • Family background.
  • Consumption of drugs .
  • Multiple births.

Although it is clearly determined that all of these risk factors pose a threat to the life of the child, the level of influence of each one in the appearance of the syndrome is still not completely determined.

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Advice for prevention

Given the complexity of this syndrome and the lack of knowledge that still exists about it, it is essential that parents of newborns take into account a series of care guidelines in order to avoid, in all possible ways, that this disease appears .

In order to offer support for parents, The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a series of recommendations :

1. Always lay the baby on his back

Both at bedtime at night and naps during the day the baby should sleep lying on his back .

2. Lay the baby on a firm surface

It is necessary to lay the baby on a firm and stable surface, such as a crib or a bed prepared for babies and, for example, never on a couch .

3. Laying the babies in the same room as the parents

This will facilitate the work of care, care and feeding the child.

4. Avoid soft mattresses

The baby should rest a mattress for stable, firm, tight bed and without any loose piece or fabric . The use of cushions, sheets or quilts should also be avoided.

5. Control the room temperature

Check that the temperature of the rooms is not excessively high. The ideal temperature is one in which an adult is comfortable wearing light clothing . Also, check that the baby is not hot to the touch.

6. Use pacifiers or bottles before bedtime

It is hypothesized that the use of pacifiers or bottles favors the opening of the respiratory tract, as well as preventing the baby from falling into a deep sleep.

7. Do not smoke near the baby

Is essential Keep the baby free from the effect of tobacco smoke , Therefore it is absolutely contraindicated to smoke near the baby or in any of the rooms in which it remains.

8. Avoid the consumption of alcohol and drugs

Although this point seems obvious it is necessary to remember that any type of substance use during or after pregnancy can pose a great risk to the health of the baby.

9. Breastfeeding

It has been shown that carrying out breastfeeding habits can reduce infections that affect the respiratory tract , which can influence the appearance of this syndrome.


Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (November 2022).


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