Cot death is also referred to as the sudden infant death syndrome. It is the mysterious death of an infant between two weeks and one year old who initially seemed healthy. It is most common among infants of between two and four months of age. This death occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and mostly when the infant is sleeping.
Why Does Cot Death Happen?
This is a question that has been disturbing many mothers for years now. Currently, the cause of this death still not clear. Experts have conducted extensive examinations, but have not yet come up with the cause of Cot death. Therefore, experts have resulted in considering the case as a diagnosis of exclusion, especially if no physical anomaly exists after a detailed medical examination. Other than cot death, the other condition that threatens the life of healthy babies is the apparent life-threatening event or near-miss cot death. To date, there is no definite figure on the frequency of cot deaths. This is mainly because only a few parents have the baby undergo a post mortem examination following this event. Additionally, the criteria used to determine cot death may vary one country to the other.
A possible cause of this death is a malfantion of the part of the brain that regulates waking and breathing. As such, the baby will not respond if his breathing is restricted by bedclothes which could be really dangerous to the babies. It may also be caused by a combination of factors that affect the baby at this vulnerable stage.
What Might Put Your Baby at Risk of Cot Death?
What is cot death should not be a point of concern, instead, you should be worried about what causes it. While there is no specific cause of this death, certain factors may predispose your baby to this death. Records indicate that most of the kids who die from this condition had been on doctor's care for either a cold or other infection of the upper respiratory tract. Again, the majority of these deaths take place in winter and early spring. During this period, respiratory infections are normally at their peak. Some of the factors that lead to this death include:
- Sleeping in a prone position, on the stomach
- If the mother smoked while pregnant with the baby, the baby will be three times more prone to this condition
- Passive smoke in the house
- The male babies are more prone to this condition. The ratio of male to female colt deaths is 3:2
- Mother getting pregnant at a young age, below 20 years old
- Abuse of drugs by the mother
- Minimal or no prenatal care for the mother
- Low weight or prematurity of the baby at birth
- Family history of cot death
While these factors cannot be used to predict the condition, they are known to predispose babies to this condition.
What Can You Do to Prevent Cot Death?
1. Change Baby’s Sleeping Position
When putting your baby to sleep, you should always place her on her back. This should be done regardless of the time of the day or night the baby is put to sleep. When the baby approaches six months of age, it is normal for her to roll over while sleeping. This is the age when babies are very vulnerable to cot death. However, you should not prevent the baby from rolling. Instead, just turn the baby over to lie on her back.
2. Avoid Smoking
Smoking while you are pregnant puts the unborn baby at a greater risk of cot death. This risk increases with more cigarettes you smoke in a day. Additionally, after the baby is born, nobody should be smoking in the house. Passive smoke in the house can also predispose the baby to this condition.
3. Do Not Share Your Bed with the Baby
Sharing the bed with your baby can be very dangerous. This is particularly the case if you are an alcoholic, a smoker or you abuse drugs. The best place for the baby to sleep in is either a cot or crib. Therefore, after feeding and cuddling the baby, you should put him back to the crib with his feet as close to the feet of the colt as possible. You should then tuck in the bedclothes firmly below the shoulders of the baby. This is to prevent the baby from wriggling down the covers and getting his head covered.
4. Closely Monitor the Room Temperature
Overheating the room in which the baby sleeps can also put the baby at a greater risk of cot death. The best temperature for such a room is between 16 and 20ºC. Additionally, you should not have babies sleep in direct sunlight or close to a radiator. Check whether the baby is too warm or too cold from time to time. If the baby is too warm, you should reduce the amount of beddings you use to cover him.
5. Breastfeed for the First Six Months
Breast milk contains a horde of nutrients that can help avert cot deaths in babies below the age of six months. As such, you should breast feed the baby sufficiently for the first six months to reduce the risk of this condition.
6. Don't Hesitate to Consult a Doctor
It is important that you take your baby for all the immunizations. Additionally, you should always seek medical attention if you suspect that the baby is ill. This will reduce the risk of the baby succumbing to this condition.
It is normal for babies to develop a myriad of complications. Some of these conditions should not worry you. You should give the baby plenty of fluids and constantly monitor their temperature. If the baby develops any of the following, you should call the ambulance immediately:
- Turns blue or stops breathing
- Is struggling to breathe
- The baby cannot wake up
- If the baby appears to be unconscious
- Develops a fit for the first time