October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month.
SIDS is defined as “the sudden unexpected death of an infant, under one-year of age, with onset of the fatal episode apparently occurring during sleep, that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, and review of the circumstances of death and the clinical history.”
The key features of the definition are that the infant’s death is sudden and unexpected, and following a thorough investigation is unexplained. It is a diagnosis of exclusion. Today, SIDS remains the most common cause of death in infants between the ages of 1-month and 1-year.
SIDS is every parent’s worst nightmare. Research shows that the risk of an infant dying from SIDS can be reduced by following a number of Safe Infant Sleep recommendations ("reducing the risk"):
While following all the Safe Infant Sleep recommendations will not guarantee prevention of SIDS, it will reduce a baby’s risk of dying. SIDS appears to be a natural cause of death, and research suggests that abnormalities in brainstem neurotransmitters are present in many SIDS babies.
I am honored to serve on the State of California’s SIDS Advisory Council as one of three SIDS parent representatives, and currently serve as the Vice Chair of the Council. The Council is legislatively mandated to advise the California Department of Public Health on matters related to SIDS. While 23 years have passed since Lauren died of SIDS during an afternoon nap at daycare, my commitment to SIDS advocacy and the impact of grief on SIDS families continues.
Lorie Gehrke, NC
It's all about our journeys... Here's where you'll hear from me on any number of topics, from nutrition and recipes, to grief and infant/child loss, to parenting and empty nesting, to poetry, dogs, and photos, and all things in between!