What are SIDS Risk Factors

Sudden Infantile Death & Apparently Life-threatening Event

In addition, acute respiratory infections and other physical illnesses, as well as developmental delays or premature birth, can increase the risk of an infant suddenly dying.
There is an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome

  • in the first two days of life,
  • during the 2nd to 4th month of life.

As a rule, at least three factors must come together for the risk of sudden infant death syndrome to increase. Such a combination of circumstances can, for example, be external influences such as prone position, sleeping in a family bed or smoking in the surrounding area in a critical phase of life if the child is also more susceptible because the mother smoked during pregnancy or because the child had an illness that increases the risk.

In infants who were monitored with a heart-breath monitor, it was observed that the heart rate drops shortly before the child dies. At the same time, the number of breaths per minute often decreases. Experts suspect a connection with an endogenous messenger substance, serotonin. However, the relevant study results are contradictory. While some studies found a serotonin deficiency, another found serotonin levels that were too high in around a third of the children affected.

Since the heart beats too slowly and the children breathe too little, the organs are no longer adequately supplied with oxygen. What is unusual about this is that the infants sleep very deeply and do not wake up. Some people react with what is known as gasping for breath. The infants only breathe intermittently while they bend their head back and forth, but take long pauses between the breaths. This gasp is an innate and powerful mechanism for self-resuscitation. However, it was ineffective for children who died of sudden infant death.

Apparently Life-threatening Event (ALE)

The apparently life-threatening event (ALE) is associated with diseases of the respiratory tract, heart or blood vessels, with metabolic disorders, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and neurological diseases, but also with developmental delays, premature birth or abuse. Whether or not these were actually the cause of the event can usually not be clearly clarified hours or days later.

Doctors distinguish high-risk events from low-risk ones. Repeated events that last longer than 1 minute and require resuscitation by medical personnel speak for a high-risk event, as well as:

  • Infancy up to 60 days
  • Premature birth
    - before the 33rd week of pregnancy
    - Degree of maturity under 45 weeks
  • Anomalies in the infant's medical history