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Sudden Infant Death: Causes and Prevention

Sudden Infant Death: Causes and Prevention

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Every year, another 250 babies, apparently healthy, are victims of sudden death. Even though the numbers have dropped considerably thanks to the prevention campaigns, this number of deaths remains unfortunately stable. The explanations and advice of our specialist.

What are the characteristics of sudden infant death?

  • Sudden infant death occurs in a toddler (50% of deaths occur between 2 and 4 monthsDuring his sleep (at night most often between midnight and 8 am) In most cases, there were no warning signs that could alert parents.
  • Some seasons are more critical than others. Studies have shown a frequency of sudden death increased from September to peak in November, December, January. This phenomenon is most likely related to the epidemics of respiratory infections. Then, the cases are less numerous until they become rare in August.
  • Like many early childhood diseases, it affects boys morebut beyond that, it can be seen that infants at risk for sudden death are the former premature infants and toddlers who have had breathing problems at the time of birth or in the first few weeks of life.

How to explain this phenomenon ?

  • It has been recorded up to one hundred and fifty explanations of this syndrome, ie its complexity. Some avenues still remain to be explored, such as genetic factors, for example.
  • There is not one cause of sudden death, but several intimately related. Among the most common are a viral or bacterial respiratory infection, hyperthermia, gastro-oesophageal reflux, or a sleeping problem.
  • Remember that it is recommended to put the babies on their backs.
  • More recently, it was nicotine that was questioned by studies conducted at the Robert Debré Hospital, in collaboration with the Pasteur Institute, the Inserm and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. There is a specific receptor in the brain responsible for regulating breathing during sleep, especially during spontaneous breathing pauses (apnea). During pregnancy, the nicotine transmitted to the fetus by the blood attaches to this receptor and alters its functions. After birth, the baby's breathing reflexes will lose their effectiveness, possibly leading to cardiopulmonary arrest.

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