Sudden Child Death: Parents should know this to reduce the risk


It is an absolute nightmare for all parents and the grief and consternation can not be put into words.

If a baby dies unpredictably and without visible cause in sleep, one speaks of sudden child death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS). The risk of sudden infant death is mainly in the first year, but it can also occur in the second year.

For the death of the baby usually no explanatory cause is found. In the meantime, however, a number of risk factors such as sleeping on the abdomen or smoking during pregnancy or lactation are known. If these factors are avoided, one can reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

Prevention and education have improved significantly in recent decades and the number of children who died from sudden child death has been reduced. However, in 2014, 119 babies were still affected in Germany. It is therefore all the more important to be well informed about the risk factors and the correct behavior in an emergency, so that sudden child death can be avoided even more frequently.

Sudden childhood death: Cause to date not yet clarified

Sudden infant death is the most frequent cause of death of infants in Germany – boys are more often affected than girls. Most cases of sudden infant death occur between the second and fourth months of life of the infant. In winter there are more deaths of this kind than in the summer .

In the majority of cases (about 90 per cent) the children die during sleep during the night. Especially common in the early morning hours. The parents do not observe any abnormalities in their child. Sometimes, however, the children are affected by excessive crying, restlessness and sweating.

Many risk factors for sudden infant death appear to be known, but the actual causes remain unclear.

Sudden Child Death: Are Scientists Finding the Cause?

Scientists could now have made a breakthrough in the fight against unexplained infant death. As the doctors of the children’s clinic in Westmead (Sydney) found out, the examined babies who died from sudden child death had 20 percent less orexin in the brain than the babies of the control group. Orexin controls the sleep-wake rhythm (and the eating habits), it is responsible for awakening when the sleep is disturbed, for example when the oxygen supply is too low.

“When we find out where the orexin level is normally in infants and when it is too low, we can already face a risk of sudden infant death in the run-up,” said Dr Rita Machaalani, the Daily Telegraph. There is hope that the scientists will soon provide a diagnosis option to further minimize the risk of sudden infant death.

Sudden childhood death: All parents should know that

All parents should know the risk factors for sudden child death in order to reduce the risk as far as possible:

During pregnancy and lactation, the parents should not smoke.

The baby should sleep on the back as far as the first year of life.

Let your child sleep in a well-fitting baby’s sleeping bag – without additional blankets, pillows or cuddly toys that might hinder oxygen supply.

If the baby is used to sleeping with a pacifier, it should be used again.

Let your child sleep in their own bed (extra bed, cot, …) in their parents’ bedroom.

When buying the mattress, make sure that it is hard and airy. Does not include waterproof sheets or mattress covers.

Make sure that the bedroom is not too warm. The ambient temperature should not exceed 18 degrees Celsius at bedtime.

The most important rules can be summarized as the “3-R rule of thumb”: Back position – Smoke free – Properly bedded!


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