Dealing with "curing" something as devastating as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) seems like a huge undertaking. The ambiguity surrounding what causes SIDS may be discouraging, but there are some policy and healthcare solutions to SIDS that help to lessen some serious risk-factors, keeping families a little safer and working to reduce SIDS deaths long-term. Given the syndrome's prevalence, the problems really can't be ignored much longer.
SIDS rates, as reported by the National Institute of Health (NIH), are recorded at more than 2,000 deaths per year. SIDS cases include the "death[s] of infant[s] less than 1 year of age...whose cause of death is not immediately obvious before investigation." Though the cause of SIDS is unknown, risk factors have been identified. The Mayo Clinic notes a "combination of physical and sleep environmental factors" that increase SIDS risk, including brain abnormalities, low birth rate, respiratory infections, along with the position the baby sleeps in and the condition of the baby's crib. Smoking while pregnant has also been connected to SIDS risk.
Making sure that legislation and healthcare policies aid families in their health goals will help keep babies safe, reducing the number of SIDS deaths. By communicating with political figures and lawmakers that these solutions are important, high SIDS numbers will hopefully become a thing of the past.
Include Prenatal Care In All Health Insurance Plans
Seeing as insufficient prenatal care is a risk factor for SIDS, increasing access to prenatal care in this instance is the obvious solution. As healthcare reform remains stagnant in our government, assuring that "women who have health insurance will have free coverage for their birth and prenatal care," as things were under the Affordable Care Act, is a must. Prenatal care is not extraneous: It's vital, for all pregnant women.
Increase SIDS Training For Officials
Currently, only 12 states include SIDS training for "child care personnel, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or law enforcement officials." Upping the number of states involved is key, given that SIDS is the primary cause of death for babies between one month and one year. SIDS is a multi-faceted, widespread issue that should be taken seriously, in a preventative capacity.
Educate Parents On SIDS Risk
In a time where the NIH's funding will likely be cut, it's important to note the important work that the institute does to try to prevent SIDS cases. Back in 1994, the NIH started a campaign "to educate parents, caregivers, and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk" of SIDS. Brochures, media campaigns, and studies are all a part of the campaign.
Address Deeper, Socioeconomic Disparities
The link between poverty and SIDS has been widely known for some time, yet the problem still remains un-addressed. Tackling poverty on the whole is a daunting goal in and of itself, but government-funded support programs like Social Security, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, and food stamps are integral to reducing poverty and, with it, SIDS risk.
SIDS may continue to be a terrifying thing for parents across the globe, at least for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean the population needs to sit idly by and do nothing. For now, speaking out and getting educated is a good start.