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Sudden death syndrome is when an apparently he althy baby dies unexpectedly and inexplicably during sleep, before the first year of age.
Although it is not known for sure what leads to the unexplained death of the baby, there are factors that can increase the risk of it happening, so it is important to adopt measures that protect the baby from sudden death syndrome, such as lying down him on his back in the crib, for example.
Why it happens
Although its cause is not fully understood, some possibilities indicate that sudden death may be related to the mechanism that controls breathing during sleep, by a still immature part of the brain, which develops throughout the first year of life, period during which there is a greater risk of suffering from this syndrome.
Other causes may be low birth weight and the emergence of respiratory infections, which can make breathing difficult.
In addition, sudden death syndrome may also be related to some risk factors such as:
- Baby sleeping on his stomach;
- Parents being smokers and having exposed the baby to cigarettes while still in the womb;
- Mother's age less than 20 years;
- Baby sleeping in parent's bed.
Sudden death is more common during the winter, especially in the coldest regions of Brazil, such as Rio Grande do Sul, where the highest numbers of cases were recorded, but it can also happen in the summer in warmer places.
It is also believed that the greatest risk of suffering from this syndrome is when the baby has very warm clothes and blankets, which lead to overheating of the body, making the baby more comfortable and with a tendency to wake up less often.In addition, at high temperatures, the baby more often has small stops in breathing, a situation called infant apnea.
Learn more about sleep apnea, also known as ALTE.
How to prevent sudden baby death
The only way to avoid sudden baby death is to avoid the risk factors mentioned above and take care of the baby, making his crib a safe place to rest. Some strategies that can help are:
- Always put the baby to sleep on his back, and if he turns over during sleep, turn him over again;
- Putting the baby to sleep with a pacifier, which increases the functioning of the parasympathetic system, making him wake up more often even if he is not fully awake;
- Avoid placing heavy blankets or blankets that could cover the baby if he moves during sleep, it is better to dress the baby in pajamas with sleeves and long pants with warm fabric and use only a thin sheet to cover him.If it is very cold, you should cover the baby with a fleece blanket, avoiding covering the head, placing the sides of the blanket fastened under the mattress;
- Always put the baby to sleep in his crib. Although the crib can be placed in the parents' room, this practice is not recommended if one of the parents is a smoker;
- Do not put the baby to sleep in the same bed as the parents, especially after drinking alcohol, taking sleeping pills or using illegal drugs;
- Feed the baby with breast milk;
- Position the baby with his feet touching the bottom edge of the crib, to prevent him from slipping and getting under the covers.
Sudden death syndrome is not fully understood and more research should be done to understand its causes.
At what age can a baby sleep on his tummy
Baby can only sleep on their stomach after 1 year of age, which is when there is no longer any risk of sudden death syndrome.Until then, the baby should only sleep on his back, because this position is the safest and, as the baby's head will be on the side, he does not run the risk of choking.