Sudden infant death

"Baby found dead in the cradle" - such messages are extremely scary for newly minted parents. Even though the causes of morbid death have not yet been definitively clarified, a number of measures are known that can greatly reduce the risk. Although the number of children affected has fallen by more than half since the late 1980s, around 150 children are still found dead in their cribs every year. Of particular concern is the fact that this situation occurs suddenly and completely unexpectedly in full health. Even after the fact, no explanation for death is found.


Affected are slightly more boys (60 percent) especially in the second to fourth month of life; From the age of nine months, the danger decreases rapidly. Death always occurs while asleep, suggesting that most deaths occur early in the morning. Most infants die in the winter months.

Another term for sudden infant death syndrome is SIDS, the abbreviation for the English term "sudden infants death-syndrome". There is also that Near-SIDS ("near sudden infant death syndrome") or also OLD ("apparent life-threatening event"). These terms describe a sudden, life-threatening condition of the infant for unknown reasons but survived in contrast to sudden infant death.

Causes and risk factors

As before, the exact cause is unknown. Many theories have been and are discussed, ranging from an immature respiratory drive with longer respiratory pauses (which becomes even more pronounced in the prone position), a disturbed conduction in the heart, metabolic disorders, overactivity in certain nerve cells to infections (for example, the respiratory tract) and various bacteria (for example, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli) or viruses.

But presumably there is not just one trigger, but several unfavorable factors have to come together.

The experts are largely in agreement about risk factors that increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, for example sleeping in the prone position and smoking the pregnant / lactating woman. Conversely, this gives parents the opportunity to reduce the likelihood with some precautionary measures.

Due to improved preparedness, the number of infants who died of sudden infant deaths has fallen from about 1990 to about one tenth by the year 2011.

Preventive measures

  • By far the most important measure is that Sleep in the supine position, The lateral position is risky, if a rotation in prone position is not reliably prevented. However, once your child turns alone, you no longer have to force it to lean back.
  • In addition, to reduce risk by using a sleeping bag instead of an over-bed - so the child's head can not slip under the ceiling. Use a rather hard mattress and do without "accessories" such as head pads and sheepskin, preferably loose loose fleece, such as nesting, spit diaper, cuddly toy near the head.
  • Important is a reasonable, not too high room temperature in the bedroom - adequate are about 18 degrees Celsius. Do not place the bed next to the heater. Do not pack your baby too warm and do not use a hot water bottle or electric blanket! Ventilate well or fan out - according to an American study, the risk of SIDS in ventilated children's bedrooms is 72 percent lower than in non-ventilated bedrooms.
  • The Sleep in the master bedroombut not in the parental bed (especially with smoking parents), the risk also seems to decrease.
  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy and in the child's household is one of the biggest risk factors, which also increases the danger of others. That's why: smokeless especially in the bedrooms, preferably in the whole house.
  • exclusive breast-feeding At least until the fourth month of life not only promote the health of the infant, but also contribute to the protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Also pacifiers seems to have a positive effect, presumably because it increases the supply of oxygen to the brain. However, do without a pacifier chain - your child could strangle with it while sleeping.



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