SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Every year, many infants die in this way. I am not going to provide any clinical aspects...

SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Every year, many infants die in this way.

I am not going to provide any clinical aspects or findings of this syndrome. My intent is to write about this in a way that helps to educate about this syndrome.

Although it can occur at any time, the highest incidence seems to be in winter. The bottom line is that a seemingly normal child is put down for a nap and never wakes up. Some would say, you lay them on their back, you lay them on their stomach, you lay them on their side. I would say, listen to your child’s doctor for the best answer on how to lay your child.

I remember from my paramedic days that the highest incidence of this occurring to children is from birth to one year, although there have been incidences involving older children.

A lot has been learned about SIDS over the years, but the fact that it is still occurring indicates that it has not been figured out yet. For those who have lost a child in this way, you have my sincerest condolences. This type of call is tragic to the parents, family, first responders and the medical team at the receiving hospitals. I do not know if it can be prevented from occurring, but I am going to offer some thoughts.

Many medical things require a high index of suspicion to figure out. If statistics show that this happens most frequently in a child’s first year and mainly in winter, then parents and babysitters should have this in the back of their minds. The only preventative measures that I can think of are more frequent checks of children while they are napping or sleeping and a good baby monitor. Even then, SIDS can still occur. I am not trying to scare anyone, but make you more aware of this.

There are other things that cause babies to succumb to illnesses or trauma. From my paramedic training, Iknow that most infants do not die from a cardiac issue. Note that I said most, since there are some that are born with cardiac defects. Most infants who suffer cardiac arrest probably had a respiratory component that led to respiratory arrest. Again, the highest incidence for these types of things is winter. You can see sickness in a child by a change in his or her eating habits, eyes, irritability and level of consciousness. Young children seem to get illnesses easier than most others because they have not built up antibodies against much. My recommendation is to keep your child’s pediatrician in the loop. If things do not seem right, then call 911 or transport your child to an emergency room that is set up for pediatric emergencies. The two hospitals that had pediatric ERs in my paramedic days were Chippenham and MCV.

One other issue that I will talk about is babies who succumb to injuries received from some type of trauma. Child abuse is prevalent in our culture. Again, there needs to be a high index of suspicion. If police, fire or EMS suspect child abuse, then they are bound by law to report it. These calls are tough to deal with, but children are the innocent victims. I will not go into this any deeper, but you, the parent, have a responsibility to protect your child at all costs.

We are not God and have little control over situational outcomes. It is my hope that greater awareness will spur you to check on your child more frequently, when they are napping or sleeping. If it can be prevented, then I would think that we would want to do everything possible to take care of our children.