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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Black Babies Are 2-3 Times More Likely to Die From SIDS - Learn The Risk Factors

Black Babies Dying From SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an unexplained occurrence for which there is no known cause. SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age. It occurs more often in male infants, and the risk among African American infants is 2-3 times higher than in white infants. Most victims of SIDS are between the ages of 2-3 months old.

Although there is no definitive cause for SIDS, scientists believe there are a number of factors that can contribute to it. One is that a brain abnormality may exist that interferes with the brain's function controlling breathing, cardiovascular functions, and body temperature. Smoking during pregnancy could actually contribute to that defect.

Scientists believe the brain abnormality may inhibit important signals that trigger normal reactions in infants. For example, if an infant is too warm or breathing is obstructed by bedding, the abnormality may not send the protective wake up signal. The following risk factors have been associated with SIDS:
  • Sleeping on the stomach
  • Soft on bedding that is too soft or on loose bedding (blankets and pillows)
  • Overheating due to clothing, blankets or room temperature
  • Breathing secondhand smoke
  • Mother smoking during pregnancy
  • Mother who is under 20 years old
  • Mother who has not received prenatal care
  • Infants recovering from a respiratory or intestinal infection

Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. This is believed to be a contributing factor to the reduction of SIDS fatalities by 50 percent since the 1990's. In addition, other recommendations include:
  • Keep infants on a firm mattress
  • Avoid too many layers of clothes and blankets
  • Keep blankets away from the infant's mouth and nose
  • Pacifiers may protect against SIDS
  • NO SMOKING around infants
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