October is SIDS, Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. An unfortunate, but important campaign to offer support and education from those parents, who have lived through it, to parents, who never should have to. The campaign also includes infant and pregnancy loss because the loss of a child is painful, no matter how it occurs. Possibly the only silver lining is that a tragedy can often serve as a lesson for those who might be listening.
Many fatalities, once considered SIDS-related, are being properly investigated and more accurately identified as non-SIDs deaths. SIDS is no longer the first claim of why a child died. Doctors and medical examiners are now stating that such deaths were often misdiagnosed in the past; and a medical condition or a crib bumper was the culprit. For example, medical examiners working out of the Maryland Coroner’s Office, actually initiated the push to ban traditional crib bumpers becasue they were tired of seeing so many fatalities caused by traditional crib bumpers being misidentified as SIDs.
Currently, 3500 children die from SIDs annually in the United States. However, 25% of that number actually includes accidental suffocation and strangulation within the crib or bed. That is 875 infant deaths that are NOT undiagnosed. This number is also rising while reported real undiagnosed SIDs deaths are decreasing. The fact that we are getting smarter about safe sleep environments means that we are getting smarter about SIDS. But we are NOT getting smarter about crib bumpers, if the number of crib bumper deaths has gone up while the number of SIDs deaths has gone down. Let’s not let these babies die in vain. Let’s learn the lesson. The more we uncover the truth, the less lives lost.