Sudden infant death

"Baby found dead in the cradle" - such messages are extremely scary for newly minted parents. Even though the causes of mantle death have not yet been definitively clarified, there are a number of measures that can be used to greatly reduce the risk. Although the number of children affected has fallen by more than half since the end of the 1980s, around 150 children are still found dead in their cribs every year. Of particular concern is the fact that this situation occurs suddenly and completely unexpectedly in full health. Even after the fact, no explanation for death is found.


Affected are slightly more boys (60 percent), especially in the second to fourth month of life; From the age of nine months, the danger decreases rapidly. Death always occurs while asleep, suggesting that most deaths occur early in the morning. Most infants die in the winter months.

Another name for sudden infant death syndrome is SIDS, short for the English term "sudden infants death-syndrome". In addition, there is the Near-SIDS ("near sudden infant death-syndrome") or ALTE ("apparent life-threatening event", ie "life threatening event"). These terms describe a sudden, life-threatening condition of the infant for unknown reasons but survived, in contrast to sudden infant death.

Causes and risk factors

As before, the exact cause is unknown. Many theories have been and are discussed, ranging from an immature respiratory drive with longer breathing pauses (which becomes even more pronounced in the prone position), a disturbed conduction in the heart, metabolic disorders, overactivity in certain nerve cells to infections (for example, the respiratory tract) and various bacteria (for example, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli) or viruses.

But presumably there is not only one particular trigger, but several unfavorable factors have to come together.

The experts are largely in agreement about risk factors that increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, for example sleeping in the prone position and smoking the pregnant / breastfeeding women. Conversely, this gives parents the opportunity to reduce the likelihood with some preventive measures.

Due to improved preparedness, the number of infants who died from sudden infant deaths has fallen from about 1990 until 2011, to about one-tenth.

Preventive measures

  • By far the most important measure is sleeping supine. Also, the lateral position is risky, if a rotation in prone position is not reliably prevented. However, once your child turns on their own, you no longer have to force them supine.
  • In addition to reducing the risk of using a sleeping bag instead of an over-bed - so the child's head can not slip under the ceiling. Use a rather hard mattress and do without "accessories" such as head pads and sheepskin, preferably loose loose fleece, such as little nest, spit diaper, cuddly toy near the head.
  • Important is a reasonable, not too high room temperature in the bedroom - adequate are about 18 degrees Celsius. Do not place the bed next to the heater. Do not pack your baby too warm and do not use a hot water bottle or electric blanket! Ventilate well or fan it - according to an American study, the risk of SIDS in ventilated children's bedrooms is 72 percent lower than in non-ventilated bedrooms.
  • Sleeping in the master bedroom, but not in the parents' bed (especially with smoking parents) seems to lower the risk as well.
  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy and in the household of the child is one of the biggest risk factors, which also increases the danger of others. Therefore: Smoke-free especially in the bedrooms, preferably in the whole house.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding at least until the fourth month of life not only promotes the health of the infant, but also contribute to the protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Even pacifiers seem to have a positive effect, presumably because it increases the supply of oxygen to the brain. However, do not use a dummy chain - your child may strangle in sleep.
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