sids no longer causes baby deathsWhen is the last time you heard about a baby dying from SIDS? In some places it's been years since an actual sudden infant death syndrome diagnosis has been given. Now, these four letters that strike fear into every new mother may actually be obsolete, as some medical examiners say there is always an explanation in these cases. Most of the time, the baby's death is due to suffocation during unsafe sleep practices. Now, those we've seen a lot of here on The Stir.
The SIDS label is attached to any death of a child under 1 year of age that was unexplained even after an autopsy. As more research into the syndrome was done, many preventative measures were recommended, not the least of which was the "back to sleep" campaign that has saved many, many lives. Notably, by helping babies breathe and not suffocate when lying face-down in a crib.
But to parents who lose a baby this way, SIDS is a lot more palatable than hearing your baby died from suffocation.
In fact, some doctors say that telling parents their baby died from SIDS is actually a merciful way of dealing with a very sad, but preventable, situation. Naturally, the opposite opinion is valid too, in that parents need to know how their child died -- especially if they can prevent it from happening again.
Regardless, as it becomes more and more clear that babies are dying from suffocation rather than a mysterious disorder, getting the message out about safe sleep practices for infants is even more important. In Baltimore, "SIDS" is being replaced with lessons in safe sleep called "ABC." Alone, back, and crib illustrate how an infant should be sleeping: nothing but the baby, on her back, and in a crib. In other words, no pillows, blankets, parents, or anything that could find its way over her head and put the baby in danger of suffocating.
Even as we talk about co-sleeping deaths here on The Stir, there are plenty of people who say co-sleeping the correct way doesn't cause deaths, it's those other people who don't know how to do it correctly. While the recommendation is that your baby be in the same room as you, keeping the baby in a separate bed, within arm's reach, is the safest way to go to prevent suffocation. You know, in one of those Arm's Reach Co-Sleepers?
I, for one, would be very happy to let go of the term SIDS altogether. Working against preventable deaths allows us all to educate ourselves, and keep babies alive and safe. Fearing the boogieman of SIDS only allows for panicking in the dark.