Few parental fears are more concerning than sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. The idea of losing a sleeping baby is heartbreaking. Fortunately, however, the threat of this condition does not last forever. In fact, in only lasts for the first six months of a child's life. But why does SIDS decrease after six months, and what does this tell parents about the risk of this condition?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SIDS refers to the unexplained death of an infant under one year of age, typically while the child is sleeping. As further explained by the CDC, SIDS claimed the lives of approximately 1,500 infants in 2014, and it is listed as the top cause of death for infants between one to twelve months of age. The unknown and unexplainable nature of SIDS makes it an especially frightening prospect for any caregiver, but there are some facts about the condition that may help put parents' minds at ease.
Although elements such as co-sleeping and stomach sleeping may also factor into the causes of SIDS, the age of the child is one major component. Importantly, there is a sharp drop-off of SIDS risk once a child is six months old or older, as noted by Live Science. In fact, 90 percent of SIDS cases occur in children younger than six months of age, according to Baby Center. This may be due to the fact that by this time of development, babies have the mental and physical abilities to cope with potential sleeping hazards, as the Baby Center further noted. For instance, a very young infant may succumb to suffocation by loose bedding rather easily, whereas an older baby may have the bodily strength and/or brain development required to lift her head away from potential suffocation hazards.
Furthermore, doctors reiterate this information. "And by the time she's 6 months old, her improved motor skills will help her to rescue herself, so the SIDS risk is greatly reduced," Dr. Rachel Moon, a SIDS researcher, told Parents. In many cases, your baby will be mentally and physically mature enough around the half-year mark to make SIDS less of a threat, so you and your family can start to sleep more easily. In the meantime, it's helpful to review how to protect your baby from SIDS.