Just saying “SIDS” to a pregnant woman makes their blood pressure spike to dangerous levels. SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the unexplained death of a healthy, usually sleeping, baby under one year of age. It’s one of the most terrifying things that a mother can think about: their precious, helpless baby passing away with no warning or reason. That’s what it makes it so scary though. For so long it was thought that SIDS didn’t differentiate and seemed to strike at random, but doctors and researchers are discovering that is not in fact the case. SIDS can not be completely prevented, but there are ways that mothers can reduce the chances of having to endure this type of devastation.
We now know that all babies should sleep on their backs, and avoid soft materials, pillows and blankets in their cribs. When the American Academy of Pediatrics initiated the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994 the rate of SIDS related deaths in infants dropped a whopping sixty percent, proving that even seemingly small changes might just save your child’s life. Furthermore, science is teaching us that there is so much we can do to help prevent SIDS while the baby is still in utero Let’s be honest, there is zero harm in stacking your deck when it comes to the scary SIDS monster. Here are some scary ways that mothers-to-be might be causing SIDS before the baby is even born!
12 Age Is Important
SIDS is much more common in babies who are born to mothers under the age of twenty compared with older mothers. Teen mothers can often times find themselves shocked, scared and in denial regarding their situation and without constant support from those around them might not be taking care of themselves in the most proper way. If a young girl is hiding her pregnancy, chances are she is skipping out on her prenatals, a healthy diet and monthly doctor’s appointments. All of these no-no’s can lead to problems with organ development in the fetus as well as raise the risk of premature delivery and/or delivering a low birth weight baby. Another contributing factor is this often times boils down to babies having babies. Young mothers who find themselves pregnant are often engaging in dangerous activities that can harm their infant. Smoking, drinking and engaging in recreational drugs are all contributing factors to having a higher risk of SIDS.
11 On The Quick
Are you one of those mamas who always dreamed of having your little ones really close in age? After hearing this you may want tor revise that plan. According to the American SIDS Institute, mothers who had their children extremely close together, (leaving less than a year between pregnancies,) might just be raising their risk of having an infant succumb to SIDS. Having kids close in age is fun to be sure, but it probably isn’t worth the risk of having to be concerned about SIDS. Carrying a human being inside your body is seriously hard work and pregnancy depletes your body of important reserves that it needs to see a pregnancy though. Allow that baby making machine to recuperate and replenish all that it has expended. Just wait the year out, enjoy your kids one at a time and follow medical advice.
10 Hitting The Mommy Juice
Pregnant women give up a lot of things when they find out they are expecting, like sleeping comfortably, eating sushi and looking at their feet. Another thing that mothers-to-be are urged to toss out the window for nine long months is drinking alcohol. Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix, in fact the effects of not heeding this warning can have very dire consequences for little ones. Pregnant women who drink are increasing their baby’s risk of SIDS by seven fold. Again it all comes down to that precious period of fetal development where tiny organs are starting to take shape. Researchers believe that when a baby is exposed to alcohol during pregnancy the parts of the brain stem that regulate breathing are compromised. If you find yourself pregnant and still engaging in unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking, see your doctor immediately. They can get you the help that you need to kick bad habits to the curb.
9 Not Getting Enough Care
Receiving adequate prenatal care is essential to having a healthy pregnancy. Creating and carrying a human is no joke and with science, technology and information available now a days pregnant women are really missing out if they are skipping on the monthly baby check ups. Early and regularly scheduled check ups in pregnancy can help reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS. One of the major reasons for this is professionals know their stuff. They can determine if a baby is suffering from intrauterine growth, at risk for premature delivery or a variety of other things that might contribute to raising the risk of SIDS. These monthly check ups are also a time for mothers and doctors to touch base regarding the mother’s physical and mental health. Doctors are not only there to help guide your infant into the world, they are there to help you too!
8 Puffing Away
Smoking is bad for your health, pregnant or not. Smoking during pregnancy though, that’s really, really bad. It isn’t exactly shocking that there is a direct correlation between smoking in pregnancy and higher rates of SIDS in infants, and it’s pretty easy to hedge your bets on this one. Lay down the cancer sticks. That’s all you have to do to give your baby a better chance at evading Crib Death. Smoking during pregnancy puts infants at a two to five fold increased risk of SIDS and the nicotine exposure in the womb changes breathing patterns and ventilatory responses that compromise respiratory arousal. Smoking in pregnancy can also contribute to a myriad of other health problems for infants including low birth weight and prematurity, both commonly linked to SIDS. The best thing you can do for your child is to give up the habit before you even consider getting pregnant.
7 Deciding On The Bottle Before The Baby Is Born
For the record I am not pro breastfeeding or formula feeding. I am a firm believer in “fed is best.” That being said, there are some undeniable benefits to breastfeeding, and reducing the risk of SIDS is one of them. Many mothers write breastfeeding off before the baby is born. Some need to go back to work shortly following the birth, others had complications trying to breastfeed before, and still other just don’t feel it is right for them. Whatever the reason is, it is completely personal and not for me to judge. Personal views and feelings aside, researchers now believe that breastfeeding your infant just may reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding can help protect your baby against SIDS-contributing infections, build better baby brains, reduce reflex and help to organize the baby’s philology.
6 In The Family?
It is a debatable topic, but some researchers are finding certain genetic predispositions to SIDS. Recent studies have found that roughly ten to fifteen percent of SIDS deaths can be traced to babies with a genetic predisposition for heart rhythm disorders, which can lead to infants falling into cardiac arrest. In the not so distant future we may be able to even isolate genes responsible for faulty respiratory processes and screen for such risk factors. Certain families carry a higher predisposition to genetic brain defects and these defects might have a link to SIDS. SIDS babies were found to be deficient in the brain signaling chemical serotonin of some 50 to 75% of deceased babies studied through the University of Boston. Furthermore babies who have had a sibling or cousin who has passed on due to SIDS is at a greater risk themselves.
5 Popping Candy
Well this is no great surprise, doing drugs can harm you and your baby. Expectant mothers who use drugs, specifically Opioids, are putting their baby at a far greater risk of developing SIDS following their birth. These babies are often born not only with a higher predisposition to apnea and great lapses in breathing patterns, but also tend to be smaller in terms of birth weight and often arrive before their due date. Anytime a mother ingests any drug, it will pass through the bloodstream and go directly to the infant. No amount or kind of drug or alcohol is safe to dabble in when you are expecting so play it safe, don’t pick any new bad habits up while you are pregnant and certainly seek help is you are struggling with a drug dependency.
4 Some Ethnicities Are More Prone Than Others
Science is forever finding new links between genetic predispositions and SIDS. It appears that some ethnicities are more prone to SIDS than others. African American boys and Native American babies are two to three times more likely to suffer from SIDS in their first year compared to other ethnicities. Researchers also claim that being male might raise the risk as well. Three out of five SIDS victims are male and while we don’t particularly know why, it’s something that science may figure out in the future and then be able to intervene with. While these factors aren’t anything that mothers can help, it is something to be aware of so women who fall in these risk categories can make sure they do everything else in their power to up their chances of keeping their infant healthy.
3 More Than One?
Being a mama to multiples myself I am so freaking glad I didn’t know that this was a SIDS risk. Honestly, it probably would have put me right over the edge. Truly when you find yourself carrying multiples there is a list a mile long of things you need to be concerned about. Twins, especially identical, often times arrive much earlier than their due date and can be teeny tiny at birth. I remember feeling like I just birthed sparrows! Both low birth weigh and prematurity are proven risk factors for SIDS, which makes perfect sense as to why this is a definite risk factor. The silver lining her is often times twins will get a bit of a hospital stay where they are closely monitored. Sometimes these extended stays can catch things like apnea or heart irregularities before you ever get the babies in their car seats. True story: we had an twin develop apnea and it was scary as all get out. As scary as it was, we were lucky that it happened in the hospital and not at home!
2 The Levels Keep Increasing
If you are thinking of getting pregnant, you might want to consider working on achieving a state of zen first. I know, easier said than done once that ticking time bomb of a biological clock goes off. Believe me when I say you are preaching to the choir here. A study out of the University of Indiana and Sweden’s Karolinska’s Institute found a startling link between high levels of stress in women considered to be in the preconception stages and infant mortality rates. Researchers now believe that maternal stress during preconception alters the body’s systems that are responsible for relaying hormone signals and nutrition to the fetus, affecting the formation of organs. Preconception stress is also linked to lower birth weight babies and premature delivery, which are both identified risk factors in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
1 Not Kicking The Hobbies
Nne months can seem like a very long time to watch your every move and live as cleanly as possible, but truly it is worth it in the long run. Having a preemie is no fun for anyone, believe me. I can tell you firsthand that it is scary and stressful and a time where you as the mother feel helpless. Avoid any activities that might send you into labor before your time. Preemies are susceptible to a bevy of health hurdles and SIDS is only one of them. Keep those kiddos baking for as long as possible mamas! Of course there are plenty of factors that can send you into labor early that are totally out of your control, but engaging in drugs and alcohol, smoking, maintaining high levels of stress and not following your doctor’s medical suggestions are all things moms can do to up their chances of making it forty weeks.
Even with all that we do now know regarding SIDS, it will undoubtedly remain a perplexing and frightening condition for expecting mothers. You can never really be completely safe from the fear as SIDS can strike anyone, but lowering your risks where you can won’t hurt your chances of having a healthy little one.
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