SUIDS is something incredibly serious and truly devastating. So what is it, and why does it instill such a real and overwhelming fear inside of all new parents?
SUIDS, or Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome, means that a child less than the age of 1 dies from an unknown cause prior to investigation. SUIDS includes SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), as well as accidental suffocation in sleeping areas, and other unknown causes.
Growing up, it was very common for our parents and grandparents to put their children to sleep on their bellies. However, in 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a recommendation that infants should be put to sleep on their backs. In the following years, there was a dramatic decrease in SIDS cases, but unfortunately there was also an increase in sleep-related deaths from other causes, such as suffocation, positional asphyxiation, and entrapment.
Recent data shows that as many as 3,500 infants die annually in the United States from SUIDS. The AAP recommends a safe sleep environment that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, which includes supine positioning, the use of a firm sleep surface, room-sharing without bed-sharing, and the avoidance of soft bedding and overheating.
- Supine positioning meaning horizontal and flat – the biggest concern about any vertical positioning while sleeping is that the chin will fall onto the chest and cut off oxygen supply;
- A firm sleep surface being a crib mattress or bassinet with a tight-fitted sheet – infants should not be left to sleep in a car seat, in a sitter, or in a swing;
- Room sharing, without bed sharing, for the first 6 months (even up to 1 year of age) can reduce the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%;
- Avoid soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys – the crib should be bare.
There are many ways that parents can reduce the risk of SIDS, specifically when it comes to sleep-related infant deaths – the best method is through education. Even after all of that, it is perfectly normal to watch your baby while they sleep just to make sure they are still breathing – everyone does it.