SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome, which also goes by the name of crib death is the inexplicable death of a baby who is less than one year old. An autopsy carried out after the infant dies still is unable to reveal the cause of death in the case of SIDS.
It usually occurs at night, during the child’s sleep. An exact cause of the syndrome remains unknown yet, but there might be a variety of factors contributing to the sudden death. These include premature birth, exposure to smoke, sleeping on the stomach or accidental suffocation. Breastfeeding is always recommended in order to reduce the risk.
It has been reported that SIDS is the reason behind 80 percent of sudden infant deaths. In the U.S.A. sudden death syndrome was the third leading cause of unexpected death of children under a year in 2011.
Researchers from Colorado have recently found a connection between altitude and SIDS. Apparently, the infants who live above 8,000 feet face a risk twice as high as those who live under 6,000 feet.
The study involved analyzing the birth certificates, as well as the death registries of 395,000 babies born in various hospitals from 2007 to 2012. They also took into consideration a few important factors, such as the mothers’ age and education, the baby’s weight and a few environmental factors like exposure to cigarette smoke.
The results of the Back to Sleep Campaign was also taken into consideration. This campaign advised parents to lie their babies on their back instead of on their stomach. The campaign has been active for more than two decades now.
An explanation for the fact that children living at higher altitude are more likely to be affected by the sudden infant death syndrome would be that there is less oxygen available at more elevated points. Thus, babies living higher in the mountains are more exposed.
The lack of oxygen has been long linked to SIDS but more studies should be carried out to establish if this is indeed the real cause behind such increased risk.
However, the study also revealed that sudden deaths were quite rare even at high altitudes, according to lead study author cardiologist Dr. David Katz, from the University of Colorado.
Only six deaths related to SIDS were reported at the highest altitude. A rate of 0.8 deaths caused by SIDS per 1000 infants was reported in elevated points of Colorado, compared to 0.4 in lower points.
Therefore, people living in higher points should not abandon their homes and move elsewhere, but they should be extra careful to reduce other risk factors – such as cigarette smoke or laying the infant on its stomach.
Image Source: telegraph