sudden infant death syndrome

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sudden infant death syndrome

(SIDS) or

crib death,

sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant under one year of age (usually between two weeks and eight months old). SIDS accounts for 10% of infant deaths and is the second highest cause of death (after accidents) in infancy. The risk is higher in males, in low-birth-weight infants, in lower socioeconomic levels, during cold months, and for babies who sleep face down.

Causal theories suggest that the infant may have immature or hypersensitive lungs, may have a defect in brain-stem control of breathing, or may be rebreathing carbon dioxide. Recent studies have shown persistent high levels of an infant form of hemoglobinhemoglobin
, respiratory protein found in the red blood cells (erythrocytes) of all vertebrates and some invertebrates. A hemoglobin molecule is composed of a protein group, known as globin, and four heme groups, each associated with an iron atom.
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 in babies with known risk factors for the condition.

SIDS victims are thought to have brief episodes of apnea (breathing stoppage) before the fatal one. An alarm system that detects breathing abnormalities is sometimes used with infants suspected of being prone to SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that babies be laid to sleep on their backs or sides.

sudden infant death syndrome

[′səd·ən ′in·fənt ¦deth ′sin‚drōm]
(medicine)
The sudden and unexpected death of an apparently normal infant that remains unexplained after the performance of an adequate autopsy. Abbreviated SIDS. Also known as crib death; sudden death syndrome.
References in periodicals archive ?
Ed Mitchell, a cot-death expert at Auckland University, New Zealand, told New Scientist: "I would emphasise that the major problem is tobacco smoking when pregnant, rather than these other drugs.
Parents of cot-death infants may have to discuss the incident with the police and be prepared for post-mortem examination of the baby.
One of the best-known cot-death mothers is former breakfast TV presenter Anne Diamond, whose son Sebastian died in 1991, aged four months.