Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is the third leading cause of death in babies (U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services). More babies die in a year of SIDS than cancer, leukemia, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, and child abuse combined (“Sudden Infant Death”). But what is SIDS? The definition is the death of an infant within its first year that cannot be explained after an autopsy, an investigation of the place where the baby died, and a review of the baby's and its family's medical history. But what truly causes it is a mystery that leaves scientists and doctors with just guesses and tests to do. Some people say that babies die of SIDS just from sleeping wrong. In 1994, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) had a “Back To Sleep” campaign that told parents to always put infants on their backs when sleeping. After that, the rate of SIDS went down by more than 50% (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Even with that drop in the death rate, SIDS is still responsible for about 3,000 deaths per year (“Sudden Infant Death” 1621). There is a theory that SIDS is caused by rapid development. This theory that SIDS is a developmental thing argues that because a baby's brain is growing so quickly during its first six months of life, there is a chance that it may send an abnormal or wrong message to a critical organ system. Another theory is simply that these infants are just not healthy to begin with. This idea says that the baby's time in the womb before it was born may have placed it more at risk. Hannah C. Kinney, M.D., of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital of Boston, and her colleagues did a study to try and find another cause for SIDS. These researches looked at brain tissue from 35 infants who died of SIDS, 5 who died unexpectedly of other causes, and 5 who died for reasons associated with lack of
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