OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected death of an infant under the age of one and affects thousands each year.
“Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, sometimes it’s called sudden unexpected infant death, those are both terms we use to describe babies who are found not breathing and die in their sleep,” said Children’s Hospital Vice President and Medical Director Dr. Melissa St. Germain.
“With a SIDS baby, it’s not a planned event at all, there’s nothing that can save that — It’s going to happen. There’s a lot of different theories about it...there’s not a definite reason at all, it’s typically a healthy, well-baby," said Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Maternal Infant Health Program Manager Jackie Moline.
SIDS is the leading cause of unexpected death in children between one month to one year of age. According to doctors, there’s no definite reason it happens and there’s no specific pattern.
“When babies stop breathing, sometimes it’s because they re-inhale enough of their exhalations. So you end up rebreathing the same air over and over again and it doesn’t have as much oxygen and eventually, that can tell your brain not to breathe anymore,” said St. Germain.
But there are things parents can do to try and best prevent it. Doctors advise parents to follow the ABCs of sleep.
“Place the baby alone on their back in their crib, so all the ABCs of safe sleep and being alone in the crib. So not sharing with a sibling or sleeping with your baby in your own bed. The baby should be on their back definitely and the crib should be in the mom’s room, but not in their same sleep area and that includes sleeping on the couch or a sofa chair or even sleeping in their car seat,” said St. Germain.
Other risk factors include smoke.
Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services partners with hospitals across the state in an effort to decrease infant mortality through the Safe Babies Campaign.
When the program was developed, the department noticed there was different education happening from hospital to hospital.
Fifty-three “champion hospitals” are now certified through the state’s campaign with consistent education on safe sleep. Health officials urge everyone, not just parents, to be aware of the dangers of SIDS.
“We want all of our newborns to celebrate their first birthday. Everything we can do, we can prevent or decrease the chance of SIDS and anyone can help do that,” said Moline. “Grandparents, an auntie, whoever you are taking care of that baby, you need to know the ABCs of safe sleep.”
To learn more about SIDS and safe sleep practices, you can visit the DHHS’ website.