Guest Author - Julixa Newman
SIDS is an acronym for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a terrifying situation that refers to the unexplained death of a child. It is also referred to as “crib death,” although that is because many of the occurrences are discovered at night-usually while sleeping in the crib, cot, or bassinet. There are some factors, such as prematurity and low birth weight, that relate directly to multiples, putting them at higher risk for SIDS; as the incidences of these factors are much more prevalent with multiple births. Combine that with the fact that many multiples share a crib during the peak ages for SIDS occurrences, and there is a legitimate reason to be concerned. While there are many multiples that share a crib or cot out of necessity, it is extremely important to make sure each has plenty of space to him/herself.
Unfortunately, there is no known cause of SIDS, so people can only rely on statistics to understand the risk factors associated with the underlying problem. There are a few factors that we, as parents, can control to reduce the chances that SIDS will occur. These controllable factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, sleeping in any position other than the back, and overheating can all contribute to the incidence. Keeping a child away from smoke is pretty cut and dry, but there are some that disagree with sleeping on the back to keep the head from becoming flat in the back. Fortunately, the more time the child spends out of the crib and baby/car seats, the lesser chance there is of that occurring regardless. As far as overheating, it is very important to keep the room temperature at the point where pajamas will keep a child happy and comfortable, and no excessive use of blankets or multi-layered clothing is necessary.
Some of the other statistics related to SIDS are startling, as they relate to family makeup. We know that the peak age for SIDS to occur is roughly at the 2-3 month old mark, and it is more common in boys than girls. Also, babies of African American descent, Native Indian descent, and Native Alaskan descent have higher rates of SIDS for some reason. Family health is also important; mothers can exhibit several risk factors that seem to create higher rates of having a child die from SIDS. Mothers who experienced minimal weight gain during pregnancy, mothers under 20, and mothers with a history of STD’s, drug use or smoking also had higher rates of SIDS occurrences.