SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, may be linked to smoking in mothers, according to a recent Australian study.
It is believed that infants who die from SIDS do so because they stop breathing and lack the ability to rouse themselves to start breathing again.
This is similar to what happens with adults who have sleep apnea.
When an infant is exposed to smoke, they are less likely to be able to wake themselves up if there is a breathing problem. The greater the smoke to which the infants are exposed, the greater the risk that the baby will not be able to rouse herself.
Although the study in question was too small to provide definitive information, it is still important to avoid smoking both for your health, and for that of your baby.
The exact mechanism that causes SIDS has not yet been discovered. Researchers believe it may be a function of genetic anomalies of the brain or perhaps even a heart condition. Here are the things you can do to help avoid SIDS:
- Stop smoking, ideally before you become pregnant
- Do not use illegal drugs while pregnant
- Eliminate or minimize caffeine use while pregnant
- Keep your baby away from smoke
- Put your baby to sleep on her back, on a firm surface
- Your baby should sleep in a slightly cool room
- Breastfeed your baby
Unfortunately, there is no certain way to prevent deaths from SIDS at this time. Be aware of the factors you can affect, particularly smoking.