Amy E. Farmer
June 4, 2004
Do you know of a young child that has died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)? Have you heard of somebody who had a child die of SIDS? Chances are you have. Even though the U.S. Annual SIDS rate has been declining since 1980, there are still quite a few cases of SIDS. In the year 2000 the rate was 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births alone right here in North Carolina (N.C. Healthy Start Foundation).
Sudden infant death syndrome, better known as S.I.D.S., is one of the leading causes for the inflated infant mortality rate in this country today. It is often misunderstood or unrecognizable. For the most part, the causes of SIDS are unknown to the general public. This is changing, however, as public awareness is ever increasing. Thus, the purpose of this paper will be to explain sudden infant death syndrome and its known or suggested causes. In addition, the history of SIDS, the problems and emotional suffering that results from the loss of a child, the toll it takes on the surviving sibling and possible counseling or other help that is available for parents who may have lost a child to SIDS are such areas that will be explored. Overall, I hope to achieve a better understanding of all these suggested topics within the body of the paper.
SIDS is also commonly referred to as crib death. It is said to claim approximately 6,000 to 7,000 babies a year within the continental United States alone, with a slight increase each year (Bergman xi). This would seem to be an astounding figure, but when the figure of the total amount of babies that are born in the United States is compared to that of the number of deaths due to SIDS, it accounts for only a small percentage. It is a small percentage that hopefully can be reduced. And to any parents, the loss of just one child is definitely one too many, in spite of the statistics that are currently available. The first year of life is where most deaths that are associated with prematurity dominate; SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants under one year of age, according to Bergman. It ranks second only to injuries as the cause of death in children less than fifteen years of age.
An unknown fact is that SIDS takes more lives than other more common diseases such as leukemia, heart disease or cystic fibrosis (Bergman 24). Ironically, it was not until the middle of the 1970's that SIDS was no longer ignored as a cause of death. For the most part, no research was being conducted, leaving families and victims left to wonder why their babies died (Mandell 129). For the family and friends of the family, who also are victims, this was definitely a tragedy. Not knowing the cause of death had to have caused physical and emotional distress in their lives. Self-blame was something that had to exist, even though there was nothing that most of these parents could have possibly done.