Sudden infant death syndrome

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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of a human baby which is unexplained even after an autopsy and investigation.[1][2] SIDS is sometimes referred to as cot death or crib death. The name is only applied to cases where the baby is less than one year old. It is defined as a syndrome.

Babies are at the highest risk for SIDS during their sleep. Male infants die more often than female infants; about 60% of the cases are male infants. Infants also die more often during winter months.

The reason for SIDS are unknown, but there are different theories:

  • Problems with blood flow to the brain
  • Problems with levels of serotonin
  • Effects of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism)
  • Toxic gases
  • Reaction to certain vaccines

Infanticide and child abuse cases may be misdiagnosed as SIDS due to lack of evidence. and caretakers of infants with SIDS are sometimes falsely accused.[3][4] Accidental suffocations are also sometimes misdiagnosed as SIDS and vice versa.[5] Grief support for families affected by SIDS is particularly important. The death of the infant is typically sudden, without witnesses, and requires an investigation.

References[change | change source]

  1. Willinger M; James L.S. & Catz C. 1991. Defining the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Deliberations of an expert panel convened by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Pediatric Pathology 11:677-684.
  2. Beckwith J.B. 1970. Discussion of terminology and definition of the sudden infant death syndrome. In Bergman A.B; Beckwith J.B. & Ray C.G. (eds) Proceedings of the second international conference on the causes of sudden deaths in infants. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 14–22.
  3. Glatt, John (2000). Cradle of death: a shocking true story of a mother, multiple murder, and SIDS. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-97302-0.
  4. Havill, Adrian (2002). While innocents slept: a story of revenge, murder, and SIDS. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-97517-1.
  5. Krous H.F (2012). "A commentary on changing infant death rates and a plea to use sudden infant death syndrome as a cause of death". Forensic Sci Med Pathol. doi:10.1007/s12024-012-9354-x. PMID 22715066.