Common Questions:

What causes SIDS?

SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion.  This means that “scientifically” we do not know what happened.  SIDS is not a condition, a disease, or even a syndrome – by a scientific definition.

Is SIDS preventable?

SIDS is not preventable.  It is like asking if dying of natural causes is preventable.  However, we do know a lot of things can decrease the risks.

Are SIDS and suffocation the same?

Suffocation in the context that most of us think of, is when we are deprived of oxygen intake.  This can, and does happen; infants have been found with both nose and mouth covered by non-air impermeable objects such as plastic bags.   These deaths would most likely be listed as a suffocation death.

Asphyxiation is a form of suffocation, and this is when the body (blood and tissue) has an excess of carbon dioxide.  Hypoxia is a condition when not enough oxygen is reaching the tissues of the body.  Hypoxia has been linked to SIDS deaths.  This lack of oxygen getting to the tissue is believed to be rebreathing of carbon dioxide, meaning some infants do not gasp for oxygen and instead rebreathe their bad air (carbon dioxide).  They rebreathe this bad air which then suppresses their need to breathe and they quietly pass. 

Why are infant suffocation deaths on the rise while SIDS rates are falling?

Because many coroners and pathologist are reporting infant deaths that are attributed to hypoxia as suffocation or asphyxiation deaths instead of SIDS deaths. (See above question for more detail)  Since the popularization of the Back-to-Sleep Campaign in the early 90’s, SIDS rates have fallen, but suffocation and asphyxiation deaths have risen to the same level of the decrease.   This is the reason the AAP expanded their safe sleep guidelines in 2011 to include “all sleep related” deaths.

How do I know if my baby is at risk for SIDS?

We do not know.  There is no testing to help us determine SIDS risk.  We do know through retrospective analysis – comparing death reports of infants to similar infants who survived – that SIDS risks can be minimized by avoiding common things some infants who died were exposed to. One example would be smoking.  More infants who died had smoking care givers than similar infants who did not die.

At what age will my baby not be at risk of SIDS?

Your baby will no longer be at risk of SIDS at one-year-old.  However, they now become at risk of SUDC (Sudden unexplained death in childhood).  SUDC is the death of a child over the age of 12 months which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation and autopsy.  

How are safe sleep guidelines created?

The American Academy of Pediatrics created a Safe Sleep Task Force.  These five members are physicians who volunteer their time.  They do not conduct actual clinical studies to establish SIDS guidelines, they interpret death scene investigations and try to make sense out of their findings.  Often, by their own admission, they are hamstrung because of the lack of scientific data available.  For this reason, they are considered guidelines and recommendations.

Why has the AAP put so much emphasis on sleeping in the same room as my baby this past year?

Actually, they didn’t.  The AAP suggested in their 2011 policy statement too that parent’s room share but not bed share.   The AAP, by their own admission, admitted they did not take lifestyles of U.S. parents into consideration.  The majority of the data on room sharing originated in Europe where it is very common for families to room share with infants.  What was not noted is that Europeans receive far more “parental” benefits than we do in the U.S. including time off.  Asking U.S. parents to room share for six to twelve months is a “huge” cultural shift for American Parents.  In fairness to the AAP Task Force Members, it was the media that blew this recommendation out of proportion.

What organizations can help me if I lost an infant to SIDS?

Here is a comprehensive list of organizations tailored to specific needs.  We found that reaching out to people who have experienced a similar tragedy helps in the healing process.

I heard some infants die because they have a brain abnormality, is that true?

There is research conducted by pathologists that shows infants who die of SIDS have a low serotonin levels in the brain stem. 

These researchers theorize that this serotonin abnormality may reduce infants' capacity to respond to breathing challenges, such as low oxygen levels or high levels of carbon dioxide. The belief is high levels of carbon dioxide accumulate in bedding material while the infant sleeps causing hypoxia - a conditioned associated with SIDS

I heard some infants “forget” to breathe and there is no way to prevent it, is that true?

The problem is not that infants “forget” to breathe, the problem is they do not respond when they are  breathing in carbon dioxide, or their oxygen intake  is compromised.

Is it ok to let my baby sleep in their car seat, swing, recliner or rocker?

These products were never intended for infant sleep, and many of these products have never been evaluated by governmental agencies as sleeping devices.  The problem is   many of these products have high suffocation risks.

 We all know as parents,  our little one will fall asleep in a swing or car seat.  It is best to remove them and place them in their crib once they fall asleep.  An infant’s airway can be compromised when in a reclining positions.

Should I be concerned if my baby can roll back and forth and has good head control?

Having good head control or being able to roll has nothing to do with SIDS and sleep related deaths.  In fact, infants who roll for the first time have a 20% increased risk of SIDS and it increases to 40% if they are swaddled.  Infants who died of SIDS often had good neck and head control.

My baby must sleep on their tummy for medical reasons, what should I do?

Never assume your baby must sleep on their tummy.  This decision should come from a qualified medical professional.  Infants are always safest on their back because there is nothing to block oxygen or compromise their air.  If it is determined by a medical professional that your infant must sleep on their tummy for medical reasons, chances are the Breathe-Through Crib Mattress will be covered by your insurance or Medicaid.

I Follow all the safe sleep rules but my baby won’t sleep, what should I do?

We recommend reaching out to an Infant sleep consultant.  We have found that simple things like not having colored lights on products in the infant’s room can mean the difference between sleep and no sleep.  You can reach out to one of our Safe Sleep Partners, Sleepwell baby for a free 15-minute phone call.

Why do I hear conflicting information on what way a baby should sleep?

The only way you should ever place your baby to sleep is on their back.  It is the safest way to position an infant for sleep.  We do know that all infants begin to roll and scientific studies show a Breathe-Through crib mattress is safer for the infant who rolls while unattended.

Why are air permeable sides recommended in play yards but not anywhere else?

The recommendation was based on a retrospective study of infants who had died with their faces up against solid sides of bassinets.  The lead author on this study was Dr. Rachel Moon, who is also the lead author on the AAP’s Safe Sleep Policy Statement.  If you read the recommendation, it states “may be” preferable to air-impermeable sides.  No scientific data exists to say if the sides should be air permeable or not.  However, it seems to make perfect sense since all the rest of the policy statements center on keeping exhaled gasses (carbon dioxide) away from a sleeping baby.

Is it true infants are less likely to choke if they are on their stomach?

There is no scientific data to support that an infant is less likely to choke on their back or stomach.  The suggestion, based on the anatomy of an infant, is only conjecture. 

What should I look for when choosing safe sleep products for my baby?

You want to avoid any product that claims they can reduce SIDS or suffocation.  There is no scientific evidence to show that any product can reduce SIDS.  To prove one product had less of a SIDS or Suffocation risk, unethical testing would have to be conducted.

However, there are certain things we do know that support safe, healthy sleep.  The majority of these things center on keeping your baby’s airway clear of anything that can trap carbon dioxide or prevent them from getting oxygen.  A completely Breathe-Through Crib Mattress is your safest choice in preventing this type of  tragedy.

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