SIDS: A Traumatic and Tragic Disease

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a traumatic and tragic disease that affects thousands of babies throughout the world every year. There is no way of explaining the death of a child that has SIDS and there are no real ways of predicting if it could happen to any baby. What makes SIDS even worse is that the source of what exactly may be the cause of it is still unknown. Advanced research in the last 30 years has dramatically reduced the number of deaths. SIDS not only affects the infants but also the families of the infant and it proves to be a very tough and emotional experience for them.

So what exactly is SIDS? The term SIDS was finally defined in 1969 as the sudden death of an infant or child, which is unexpected by history and in which a thorough post-mortem examination fails to demonstrate an adequate cause of death (Culbertson 3). Basically, this is another way of saying that it is not known why these babies die. SIDS is not a new disease contrary to what some people might believe, but it has been happening throughout time, unexplained deaths of babies are even recorded in the bible. SIDS was probably the most neglected disease ever recorded in the history of man. It wasn’t until recently that major steps were taken to figure out why babies were dying so unexpectedly and what could we do to prevent it from happening.

So what exactly causes SIDS and is there anything we can do to prevent it? Well as of right now, the cause of SIDS is unknown. We do not know what causes SIDS and there are no consistent warning signs that might alert us to the risk of it. However, scientists and researchers have discovered many things that might attribute to the causes of SIDS. SIDS almost always occurs at night when the infant is sleeping. A higher incidence of SIDS is seen among premature and low birth weight children. Women who smoke and let their children be exposed to smoke give their children a higher risk of SIDS. Low birth rates among children have a higher chance of getting SIDS. Finally, there is a much higher rate of SIDS when infants are placed on their stomach to sleep. (Culbertson, 8-10) One of the biggest recommendations physicians make to new parents today is to let their babies sleep on their back. Putting them on their back greatly decreases the risk of SIDS to their children. These are just some of the things that have been THEORIZED by scientists and researchers that are possibilities that could be attributing factors to SIDS. But of course, these are all theories that have been developed by researchers through statistics. Statistics is one of the greatest tools we have today to help us learn about the characteristics of SIDS. Since we don”t know what it is, seeing how it works and what things we can do to help slow it down are obviously good.

Throughout history, before SIDS was defined, the accepted explanation was that either the baby choked on itself or was rolled on by the parents during sleep. Possibly an accepted answer due to the lack of knowledge in the past but now we know that most of the time they were wrong. Since there is no cure for SIDS, scientists and researchers have been studying new ways of possibly preventing it from happening to infants. New nursing techniques developed over the last 30 years have actually dramatically reduced the number of infant deaths caused by SIDS. But still, we must not forget the fact we still don”t know what causes SIDS itself. That is what makes this so terrible, that researchers have all these techniques to help prevent SIDS but we still don”t know what we are preventing.

Death by SIDS leaves a traumatic and terrible effect left on the parents and family members. A SIDS death usually promotes intense emotional reactions among surviving family members. After the initial shock and disbelief, parents often fall into a prolonged depression usually of self-denial about if they killed their baby.

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