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PUBLISHED: 1:15 PM on Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Silent killer that targets babies remains a mystery
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Few things could be more painful than looking into an empty crib. For many parents, the death of an infant is a harsh reality.

It becomes even more difficulty when the death is unexplainable.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is known as the silent killer because it can happen to an infant anytime and without any warning.

It is important for parents to get the facts about SIDS to help reduce the risk of having it happen to their families.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under 12 months old that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history.

Brandy Hazel recently had a child die from SIDS. Her son, Cole, died inexplicably in his sleep at the age of 11 weeks.

"Having a child die from SIDS makes it hard to find closure because he died for no reason," Hazel said.

Hazel said she put her son to sleep at around 9 p.m. and then fed him at 2:30 a.m.

He died sometime during the night after she put him back to bed.

She awoke early the next morning to find her son was not breathing, and she immediately suspected he had died from SIDS.

"In my mind I knew it, but I didn't want to accept it in my heart," Hazel said.

Hazel said she had a normal pregnancy, but her son was born a few weeks prematurely. Hazel said SIDS is more common among premature babies, but it is not a factor in SIDS death. A full-term baby is at just as much risk as a premature birth.

Hazel said SIDS was hardly mentioned by the hospital or by her son's pediatrician.

After the death of her son, Hazel asked doctors why they did not mention SIDS more often with their patients. They told her that they don't talk about it because they don't want to scare parents.

Even though SIDS is inexplicable, Hazel said she wishes the hospitals and physicians had done more to inform her of its dangers.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are ways to lower a baby's risk of SIDS - make sure the baby is placed on his back to sleep; use a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib; and keep the baby warm, but not overly warm.

These tips are simply ways to reduce the risk of SIDS; however, there is no sure way to keep it from happening to an infant because the cause of the syndrome is unknown, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health.

SIDS occurs most commonly in infants between the ages of three weeks and one year.

It can happen to a family of any economic class, race or religion living anywhere in the world.

SIDS is not caused by choking, suffocation or child neglect. Despite frequent reports and studies done on the syndrome, the cause still remains a mystery to medical professionals.

For more information about SIDS, visit www.sidscenter.org.


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