When you're a parent, you will do whatever it takes to keep your baby safe. After all, that protective instinct runs deep. But some potential threats to your child, such as SIDS, can be difficult to understand. For instance, does SIDS have warning signs, and how can you protect your baby from this condition?
As far as parenting fears go, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or crib death is particularly nightmarish. According to the Mayo Clinic, the cause of SIDS is often unexplained, and it can happen to babies who appear otherwise healthy. It seems particularly cruel that a baby who is sleeping could pass away for no apparent reason, and it's only natural that parents would want to keep an eye out for any potential warning signs of SIDS.
Unfortunately, SIDS does not have any particular warning signs or symptoms, as noted by WebMD. Its causes are still not completely understood. There are some potential correlations, however. For instance, as noted by the SIDS and Kids organization, sometimes the babies who get SIDS have a mild infection at the time of death, such as a cold or upset stomach, although the infections typically do not seem serious enough to be the cause of death. Additionally, the Boston Children's Hospital noted that SIDS may even have a biological basis, and its exact causes are still under investigation. As a parent, however, this is probably the last thing you want to hear. Concrete facts about your child's safety would be far more reassuring.
It is important to keep in mind that, although there are no definitive warning signs of SIDS, there are still some things that parents can do to mitigate their baby's risk. Putting your baby on his back to sleep, for instance, can help tremendously. According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), keeping your baby away from cigarette smoke, and avoiding soft sleep surfaces with loose blankets, may also help prevent SIDS.
That said, it's a good idea to keep the condition in perspective. Although the threat of SIDS is a frightening prospect for any caregiver, it's helpful to keep in mind that the rates of deaths attributed to SIDS has been declining since 1994, as further noted by the noted by the NICHD. This suggests that the safe sleep practices are having a positive effect, even if the reasons for their effectiveness are not completely understood. Of course, if you are particularly concerned about the risks of SIDS for your baby, don't hesitate to discuss additional safety tips with your physician.