Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Section 1: The Health Issue

Sudden infant death syndrome is an unexpected demise of a child between one month and one year of age that is not predictable by careful examination of the medical history. The death cannot be explained even after the death scene has been duly inspected and a forensic autopsy has been performed on the child’s body. It is most common at this stage mainly because many of the children sleep on soft surfaces with the face downwards which impairs breathing thus smothering them. Currently, in the United States, sudden infant death syndrome takes 2,500 lives annually. It is more common among the African-Americans followed by the Native Americans. The incidence is lowest among the Caucasians. Nowadays, it is not possible to accurately predict the risk of babies facing this condition despite the continued research. Since 1992, the rate of infant death syndrome has reduced by 50%, which is due to the adoption of risk reduction methods (Kinney & Bradley, 2009). The incidences of this syndrome are expected to keep reducing as research reveals possible risks and gives appropriate recommendations.

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Section 2: Influences on the Health Issue

In the search for the etiology of sudden infant death syndrome, many risk factors have been determined. Mothers who have inadequate prenatal care are associated with giving birth to children with an increased risk of SIDS. Drinking, smoking, and use of many drugs during pregnancy have also been linked to a higher risk. Children born prematurely or with a low birth weight are at a higher risk than those born normally and with appropriate weight. Exposure to tobacco smoke after birth and a mother who is below the age of 20 years have also been identified as risk factors. Putting a baby to sleep on its stomach and excessive heat as a result of too much bedding and sleepwear also increase the risk of SIDS.

One of the ways to avoid this problem is putting the infant to sleep on their backs. It has the effect of preventing the possibility of the baby burying its head in the bedding material, something that has been thought to impair adequate infant breathing which results in hypoxia and death. Few infants have been reported to die from the syndrome when sleeping on their backs. Some of the places that have been contraindicated to be used as children sleeping places include couches, soft surfaces, waterbeds, sheepskins, and chairs. Caregivers should avoid putting pillows in the infant’s cot. Ensuring that the mother receives the necessary prenatal care is of great importance. The baby should receive all the immunizations needed at the certain age. To avoid overheating, one should keep the room temperature at comfortable levels even if it means removing some of the covers. The mother should ensure that she does not drink, smoke, or use unnecessary drugs during pregnancy. Some evidence suggests that regular breastfeeding by the mother significantly reduces the risk (Venneman, et al., 2009). The baby should have a crib where it sleeps alone as opposed to sleeping in the same bed with the caregiver. Additionally, the use of pacifiers when putting the baby to bed is helpful as it enables the child to keep breathing through the nose while asleep.

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Section 3: Efforts to Reduce or Prevent the Health Issue

The American College of Pediatrics is the leading institution studying the epidemiology of SIDS as well as the identifiable risk factors. Its aim is to find a way of preventing its occurrence since there is no possible medical intervention. Based on the risk factors proposed by the American College of Pediatrics, they formulated the most effective intervention method which they termed the Back to Sleep initiative. In this intervention strategy, the caregivers are urged to lay the infants on their backs when asleep so as to reduce the possibility of the baby having problems with breathing because of burying their heads in the bedding. The incidence of SIDS has reduced by 50 per cent since this method was recommended and adopted in 1992. It is one of the best intervention strategies in managing pediatric health problems.

Section 4: Link to Lifespan Development

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Sudden infant death syndrome interrupts the lifespan development since the infants die at the early age. They never get to go through the other stages of life. If this health risk is adequately addressed, the number of babies who survive and go through the risk period of their life (from one month to one year) will be increased. However, there are still infants having other developmental problems like mental retardation or congenital abnormalities that many affect their general development. Death of a child because of SIDS is emotionally draining to the parents who may consciously avoid emotional bonding with their subsequent children for the fear that they may also die suddenly. The lack of a good emotional bond between the siblings and their parents can affect their development through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Feeling of guilt by the parents who think that they may have contributed to their child’s death may haunt them for a long time. This may influence how they handle children born after the incident. The parents may also have strained relationships with other members of the society because the lack of answers as to how the death occurred leaves the parent s as the suspects.

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