Sudden infant death syndrome: how to prevent it?

After dinner, the parents change their child’s clothes and put him to bed. Then it sleeps peacefully in- and no longer wakes up. A horror scenario, but a bitter reality for some families. In 2017, 129 children died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in Germany, according to federal health reports. Three quarters of -cases occur between the second and fourth month of life- and despite intensive research, medicine still doesn’t know the exact cause of sudden death without any apparent reason.

Sudden infant death syndrome: Prevention is successful

Pubmed, the world’s most important medical bibliographic database, lists nearly 100 studies from Germany alone in which more than 30.000 deaths were analyzed for suspected risk factors. The results allow statements to be made about the strength of correlations- and enable effective prevention: "In 1991, the number of cases was still 1285. The decline is clearly linked to the prevention work of recent years", says Professor Ekkehart Paditz. He is chairman of the Babyhilfe Deutschland association and has organized large information campaigns in the past. It explains the most influential measures according to studies:

Prof. Dr. med. Ekkehart Paditz is chairman of the Babyhilfe Deutschland association and heads the Center for Applied Prevention in Dresden

Prof. Dr. med. Ekkehart Paditz is chairman of the Babyhilfe Deutschland association and heads the Center for Applied Prevention in Dresden, Germany

Sleeping bag instead of blanket

"For birth, you can not give a better gift than a sleeping bag", says Ekkehart Paditz. According to studies- children who sleep under -a blanket before their first birthday have a 35-fold increased risk of SIDS. "Very many children who died were tucked in", says Paditz. To the oxygen deficiency probably overheating had come in many cases.

The expert advises not to put an extra blanket over the sleeping bag, also to keep the room temperature at 16 to 19 degrees (°C) if possible, and to make sure that the particular sleeping bag fits the time of year. Size should also be right: "If the child slips in, the best model is no good."

Rest in your own bed

Children who sleep in their parents’ bed for the first three months have a 20-fold increased risk of SIDS. From about the 13. After the first week of life, the risk is considered to be only 2.6 times higher, provided that no other factors are involved. "So the parents didn’t drink alcohol, the home is smoke-free, the child doesn’t get caught between mattresses, pillows, blankets, and so on", explains Paditz. Another recommendation: Let the little ones sleep in the parents’ room at least until their first birthday. As a result, they appear less likely to drift into deep sleep for too long. "Risk is shown to be reduced by sleeping in parent’s room", according to Paditz. An option are also side beds.

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