Health and Wellness: What you should know about sudden infant death syndrome

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to the Dallas County News and Perry Chief

A baby is determined to have died from sudden infant death syndrome if no cause of death can be identified following a death scene investigation, an autopsy and a review of the clinical history. SIDS as a cause of death is determined only when all other causes have been excluded. 

According to Boston Childrens’ Hospital researchers, SIDS is associated with problems in the baby’s ability to arouse from sleep, to detect low levels of oxygen or from a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. When babies sleep face down, they may re-breathe exhaled carbon dioxide. childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/s/sudden-infant-death-syndrome-sids/symptoms-and-causes 

Grandparents are key infant caregivers in many families, but usually don’t get the chance to discuss safe infant sleep with baby’s pediatrician. Check this video from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute, which addresses questions such as “Is it OK for baby to sleep on his stomach just for a nap?” safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/resources/caregivers/grandparents 

Infant back sleeping does not increase the risk of choking. The trachea (breathing tube) of an infant on her back continues to work even if baby spits up. But on her tummy, anything spit up pools at the opening of the trachea, making it easier for baby to aspirate or choke. 

If you have experienced the loss of a child from SIDS, emotional support is available through various in-person and online resources. Please contact Dallas County Health Navigation for information at 515-993-3750 or phn@dallascountyiowa.gov.