About SIDS, SUID and Late-Term Stillbirth
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SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Thanks to current research, there are now preventive steps parents can take to ensure the baby’s safety while they sleep. It is critical that every parent and caregiver understand the importance of these steps and are prepared to follow them as soon as the baby is born.
If these steps are not followed, and the baby is found in a compromising environment, the death may be classified as SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death), rather than SIDS.
Facts on SIDS/SUID
- SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy baby under one year of age that remains unexplained after the performance of a complete postmortem investigation, including an autopsy, examination of the scene of death and review of the medical history.
- As a result of the national Back to Sleep campaign launched in 1994 as a joint effort between First Candle, the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, SIDS rates have declined by more than 50 percent.
- Despite this success, SIDS is still the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age, claiming more than 2,200 lives each year.
- While SIDS occurs in all socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups, African American and Native American babies are 2-3 times more likely to die of SIDS than Caucasian babies.
- Most SIDS deaths occur when a baby is between two and four months; 90 percent of all SIDS deaths occur before 6 months.
- Most babies that die of SIDS appear to be healthy prior to death.
- 60 percent of SIDS victims are male; 40 percent are female.
- Despite awareness campaigns promoting the back sleep position and other safe sleep practices, there continues to be more than 4,500 SUID every year. Experts feel that as many as 80 – 90 percent of these deaths are the result of unsafe sleep practices such as bed sharing, use of soft bedding and stomach sleep position.
- Other causes of SUID include: inherited metabolic disorders, genetic cardiac disorders, infection, and intentional suffocation.
At this time there is no known way to prevent all sudden infant deaths, but there are lifesaving steps parents and care- givers can take to help protect their baby from SIDS and SUID, including suffocation and accidents during sleep.
- Babies should always be placed to sleep on their backs. Side and tummy sleep positions are not safe.
- Do not fall asleep with a baby in an adult bed or on a sofa. Bring them in bed to breastfeed and bond, but when it’s time to fall asleep, place them alongside your bed in a separate, safe sleep space.
- Do not smoke while you are pregnant and do not expose babies to second-hand smoke after they are born. New research also warns of the dangers of third-hand smoke, the chemicals left behind on clothing, in homes and in cars.
- For sleep, use a safety-approved crib, portable crib, play yard or bassinet with a firm mattress that fits snuggly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. Place your baby’s separate, safe sleep space alongside where you sleep for at least the first six months.
- Do not place babies to sleep on soft surfaces such as adult beds, waterbeds, sofas, chairs, quilts, and sheepskins.
- Do not use loose blankets in a baby’s crib. Layer clothing or use a wearable blanket or other sleeper clothing to keep baby warm AND safe during sleep.
- Remove all soft bedding and other soft items from the sleep area, including pillows, blankets, quilts, bumper pads and stuffed animals or toys, before placing the baby to sleep.
- Do not use positioners or wedges to prop your baby or keep him on his back. These products have not been tested for their ability to keep babies on their backs or for their safety.
- Take care not to overheat babies with too much clothing or too warm of room. Keep temperature at what would be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
- Use a pacifier at naptime and nighttime for the first year.
- Educate everyone you know who cares for babies about these important safety tips!
Facts on Stillbirth
What is stillbirth?
A stillbirth is the death of an unborn baby that has been in the mother’s womb for 20 weeks or more. Stillbirth is a term that describes when a baby dies, and is not a cause of death. Stillbirth cuts across all socio-economic classes, races, religions, body types and maternal age groups. No woman is immune.
How often does stillbirth happen?
While stillbirth rates have decreased by more than 50 percent since the 1970’s, there are still more than 25,000 babies stillborn in the U.S. each year . . . that equals 70 babies each and every day.
- One in every 150 pregnancies ends in stillbirth
- More than 50 percent of stillbirths happen in the third trimester and appear be otherwise healthy babies
- Fifteen percent of stillbirth deaths happen during labor and delivery
- Many full-term stillbirths occur in otherwise healthy, low-risk pregnancies
What increases my risk of having a stillbirth?
Research has identified several risk factors that may lead to a stillbirth:
- Mothers over 35 years of age
- Mothers who are obese prior to getting pregnant
- Babies who are very small or very big for gestational age
- Previous low birth weight delivery, SIDS or stillbirth
- Maternal smoking, diabetes and hypertension
- African American mothers (2-3 times greater risk)
- African American mothers over 35 years of age (4-5 times greater risk)
What are some common causes of stillbirth?
Stillbirth can be caused by problems with the mother, baby, placenta or umbilical cord. In stillbirths where a cause was identified by an autopsy, some common causes include:
- Problems with the placenta
- Infections of the mother, baby or placenta
- Cord accidents or problems
- Birth defects or abnormal chromosomes
- Fetal growth restriction (baby not growing normally)
It is important to note that nearly two-thirds of all stillbirth deaths remain unexplained. Experts warn that this is
most likely due to the fact that in many hospitals, autopsies are not required by law.
What can I do to protect my unborn baby?
At this time, there is no way to predict or prevent all stillbirths. But there are many things that pregnant mothers can do to reduce the risk of Stillbirth.
- Good prenatal care is important! Start seeing a doctor as soon as you think you might be pregnant.
- Keep all appointments and follow your doctor’s advice.
- Do not smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs (unless your doctor prescribes them)
- If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, work closely with your doctor to keep it under control.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any vaginal bleeding, leakage or sharp pain
- During your last trimester, perform a ‘kick count” at the same time every day when your baby is most active (see Kicks Count! below)
- If you are past your due date, talk with your doctor. Pregnancies longer than 42 weeks may be at greater risk for stillbirth.
- If you are concerned at anytime during your pregnancy, consider getting a second or third opinion.
Is stillbirth hereditary?
There is no evidence to reflect that stillbirth is hereditary. However, because 1 in 150 babies are stillborn, women within the same extended family may experience a stillbirth. It is important to note that these related women’s stillbirths may have no connect whatsoever.
What are the chances of a woman who has had one stillbirth to have another with her subsequent pregnancies?
Although all pregnancies can be considered a possibility for stillbirth to occur, 98% of all pregnancies result in the live birth of a healthy baby.