When my daughter first came home from the hospital I was a mix of excited and terrified. In the middle of the night I would tip toe to her bassinet and gently place my hand on her stomach to see if she was breathing. Even at 3 months I still have those moments where I see her sleeping so still that I have to come by and check on her breathing. Every first time parent I have known have confessed to doing the same exact thing. Unfortunately, the first boogey man that a parent has is called SIDS and it’s the reason many parents check up on their children as they sleep.
Just a few days ago I read the terrible news that the ‘Bernie Baby’ Died of SIDS. For those of you who have never heard of the ‘Bernie Baby’, the baby was:
An infant who rose to fame on social media as the Bernie Baby after his mother took him to a Bernie Sanders rally dressed up as the Democratic candidate, complete with oversize glasses and a wild white wig…
I am not very involved with the current election or politics and I don’t even recall seeing the picture of “Bernie Baby” on social media. But as a parent to a new child I am familiar with SIDS, and knowing that the “Bernie Baby” died of SIDS at 4 months really shook me to the core. I hate even talking about it because I just don’t want to give energy to that fear. The SIDS boogey man that haunts me. At 3 months I thought I was safe, but I was obviously wrong.
SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old.
What is SIDS?
According to the American SIDS Institute:
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) was first defined in the late 1960s and was refined in 1991 as “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 history”. (Willinger et al, 1991). Recently there is much debate about how these apparently sleep related unexpected deaths should be classified
One of the keywords in that definition is “unexplained”. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that in cases of SIDS the cause of death cannot be determined, but researchers have found that many cases of SIDS have occurred while the infant is sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment. Accidental suffocation is thought to be one of the predominant issues causing SIDS.
In most cases of sleep-related infant death, it is impossible to make a definitive classification of SIDS vs. accidental suffocation.
How to Reduce the Risk?
In the case of “Bernie Baby” we don’t have any more details on the circumstances surrounding his death and if there was anything that all parents can learn from that situation. A big part of what makes SIDS so terrifying is that in many cases the cause will remain a mystery. However, there are things we may be able to do that could help reduce the risk of SIDS.
According to the American SIDS Institute, here are some basic steps to help reduce the risk of SIDS:
Don’t Smoke – Don’t expose your baby to cigarette smoke before or after birth.
Don’t Bed-Share – Never fall asleep with your baby in your bed or in a chair or sofa.
Place in Bare Crib – The baby should be placed in a crib with no cover, pillows, bumper pads or positioning devices.
Place on Back to Sleep – Always place your baby, day or night on his back to sleep.
Please check out the Detailed List on how to Reduce the Risk of SIDS and talk to your pediatrician.
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