Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the number one cause of infant deaths, strikes nearly 5,000 babies in the United States every year. In this paper I will define and give an overview of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), present information on the triple-risk , the factors that may contribute, the recommendations for reducing the risks and the resources available for understanding and coping with SIDS.
References to and definitions of SIDS have been recorded throughout history. The earliest reference is in the Bible, 1 Kings 3:19, â€œAnd this womanâ€™s child died in the night.â€ (Bible, p. 369). The current definition comes from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 1989 a panel of experts reviewed the scientific knowledge developed during the previous 20 years and issued this definition:â€the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical historyâ€ (National SIDS/Infant Death Resource Center).
The triple-risk is often used to determine whether or not an infantâ€™s death should be attributed to SIDS. All three elements must be present to justify a SIDS death ruling. These three elements are detailed in the Woodruff Study as follows:.
1. The first element, the critical development period, encompasses rapid growth phases during the infantâ€™s first six months of life which may periodically destabilize the infantâ€™s system. During this period, changes occur in the homeostatic controls, such as sleeping and waking, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature.
2. The second element, the vulnerable infant, represents an infant with an underlying defect or abnormality. In this , normal babies do not die of SIDS; instead, there are pathophysiological reasons behind these seemingly sudden deaths, such as defects in regions of the brain that control respiration and heart rate during early life.