Why Is SIDS More Common In Boys? Researchers Don't Have All The Answers

It's a syndrome that remains unexplained, even after an autopsy and medical investigation. The simple lack of answers when it comes to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is what can make it so terrifying to think about. And it can be especially terrifying if you have a boy, as research points to SIDS being more common in boys than it is in girls. But why is SIDS more common in boys?

According to Parenting, SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between the ages of one month and one year. And, as Kids Health noted, SIDS claims the lives of about 2,500 infants every year in the United States alone. These numbers are staggering and the explanations of the syndrome are slim, which is why researchers continue to look for answers as to why SIDS occurs, and how it can be prevented.

In an attempt to test the ability of each gender's ability to arouse from sleep, researchers studied the sleeping habits of 50 healthy term infants at two to four weeks of age, and again two to three months after birth, which happens to be the age of peak SIDS incidence, according to the study. The researches behind the study noted that they, "expected the male infants to be more difficult to arouse from sleep and to have fewer full arousals than the female infants." Instead, they found the opposite to be true noting that even though male infants were easier to arouse from sleep than their female counterparts, there were no gender differences in the ability to arouse infants during sleep that could increase the vulnerability of male infants to SIDS.

In another study done in search of what sets male and female infants apart when it comes to health risks, researchers from University of Pennsylvania and University of Southern California found that boys are 60 percent more likely to be premature and to suffer from conditions arising from being born premature, such as respiratory distress syndrome. Though it remains unclear why the gap in gender mortality is so staggering, according to the Mayo Clinic, respiratory distress is one of the causes of SIDS, and could factor in to why boys are more susceptible to SIDS than girls.

Although the underlying cause of SIDS is unknown, according to the Mayo Clinic, there are physical factors that are often associated with SIDS. Brain abnormalities and low birth weight could both play a part in your infant's susceptibility to SIDS. The Clinic goes on to state that though there are no real answers as to why SIDS occurs, there are still things that parents can do in order to help prevent SIDS. From placing infants to sleep on their backs, to keeping their cribs clear of any excess material that could make it difficult for them to breathe (i.e. soft blankets, too many stuffed animals, etc), creating a safe environment for your baby to sleep in could help prevent SIDS. Though it's still unclear as to why boys are more susceptible to SIDS than girls, it's important to take care and prevent the possibility for SIDS in any way you can, regardless of gender.