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The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [ 1 ] defines Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as "the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the symptoms or illnesses the infant had prior to dying and any other pertinent medical history."
SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age, with most SIDS deaths occurring between 1 and 4 months of age. SIDS kills 3 out of every 2,000 infants. African American children are 2 to 3 times more likely than white babies to die of SIDS, and Native American babies are about 3 times more susceptible. Also, more boys are SIDS victims than girls.
A number of factors seem to put a baby at higher risk of dying from SIDS. These include:
Mounting evidence suggests that some SIDS babies are born with brain
abnormalities that make them vulnerable to sudden death during infancy.
Studies of SIDS victims reveal that many SIDS infants have abnormalities
in the arcuate nucleus , a portion of the brain
that is likely to be involved in controlling breathing and waking during
sleep. Babies born with defects in other portions of the brain or body
may also be more prone to a sudden death. These abnormalities may stem
from prenatal exposure to a toxic substance (cf. teratogens ),
or lack of a vital compound in the prenatal environment, such as sufficient
oxygen. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy, for example, can reduce the
amount of oxygen the foetus receives.
The numbers of cells and proteins generated by the immune system of some SIDS babies have been reported to be higher than normal. Some of these proteins can interact with the brain to alter heart rate and breathing during sleep, or can put the baby into a deep sleep. Such effects might be strong enough to cause the baby's death, particularly if the baby has an underlying brain defect.
Some babies who die suddenly may be born with a metabolic disorder. One such disorder is medium chain acylCoA dehydrogenase deficiency , which prevents the infant from properly processing fatty acids. A build-up of these acid metabolites could eventually lead to a rapid and fatal disruption in breathing and heart functioning.
There is no easy prevention solution for SIDS, however, certain factors may decrease an infant's risk. These include:
For further, more detailed information on this topic, please refer to the reference source for this page.
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
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