SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Is there a specific cause of SIDS death, and is there a way to avoid their occurrence?

I believe so. I believe that the cause of SIDS is depleted rebreathing (as I will explain), and there are specific ways to avoid it happening. There are many pages on this site, but I'll be brief on this page, and suggest you read more on the other pages if you are interested.

What is Depleted Rebreathing?

Depleted rebreathing takes place when an infant has their breathing compromised by breathing into a soft toy or bedding over a period of time. When an infant's breathing is obstructed by something blocking their mouth and nose, such as being placed face down into their bedding, they breathe their own air over and over, and as this happens the oxygen content deteriorates as it is depleted, while the carbon dioxide content increases. If this continues over a long enough period of time (how long, we don't know), this may lead to a SIDS death. 

This is the premise under which the Back to Sleep program is supported. Without saying it explicitly, those that champion the Back to Sleep program are suggesting that depleted rebreathing is the cause of SIDS deaths in these cases. The purpose of the Back to Sleep program is the avoidance of any situation whereby an infant’s breathing would be impaired in any way such that depleted rebreathing can take place. I agree with this as it is a simple question of logic; simply put, if the avoidance of depleted rebreathing significantly reduces SIDS deaths (considered to be a reduction of about 50%-60% in the case of the Back to Sleep program), then depleted rebreathing has to be considered as the cause, or as the most significant cause of SIDS.

Can Depleted Rebreathing lead to other outcomes?

It is my belief that depleted rebreathing can lead to other outcomes, such as learning disabilities, ADHD, and possibly autism. More can be read about these outcomes (that worry many parents) here or on autism here.

How can Depleted Rebreathing be avoided?

Here is the brief list:

  1. Encourage thumb sucking and pacifier use.
  2. Ensure fresh air circulation in the crib room.
  3. Use thin mattress sheets that are fitted tightly over the mattress.
  4. Put your infant to bed wearing a properly fitted bodysuit (sleepers) that uses snap closures rather than zippers, rather than blankets.
  5. Keep soft toys (stuffies) out of the crib.
  6. Remove bumper guards.
  7. Follow the “Back to Sleep” Program, putting the infant on their backs to sleep. It is usually recommended by your doctor. Others suggest that if you follow the first six practices, the Back to Sleep program wouldn't be necessary. I'll let you decide.
  8. Related to #2, don't place crib tightly against the wall or in a corner.
  9. Swaddling. Don't practice this. Be careful that your infant is not too tightly bound in their car seat.
  10. Don't have the infant sleep in the parental bed or on other furniture. The soft surfaces or other items might be a danger.
  11. Most immunizations take place at about 1 yr. Be extra vigilant about their breathing for a few days after their immunizations.
  12. Keep others away from your baby if they have any contagious illness.
  13. Never assume that nurseries, babysitters, or home daycare providers know what you are aware of here. 30% of SIDS cases take place when away from parental care. Test them before putting your infant in their care.
  14. Keep your infant away from any mold or allergic substance, and of course, any environment where smoking takes place.
  15. Pregnant mothers should never sleep with their heads under the covers! (see below)
These suggestions are covered in more detail in Chapter 8.

Can older children and adults suffer from depleted rebreathing?

Yes. They can do this by sleeping with their heads under the covers, whereby in this microenvironment the oxygen gets depleted over time.

My research shows that a significant number of adults suffer Alzheimer's disease due to this practice. You can read about in Chapter 10: Alzheimer's disease.
My research also shows that some symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be caused by this practice. You can read about this in Chapter 11: Multiple Sclerosis.

I have no product to sell. I only ask that you share this site's information with others who may benefit. 

Please let me know whether this information was useful to you. Thanks.