SIDS, meaning Sudden Infant death Syndrome is the most common cause of death in infants which occurs after the first month of life. It kills almost 2.000 infants in the US every year. SIDS is when a healthy baby dies and the cause of death cannot be explained. Nobody knows what generates SIDS, but it is speculated that such babies may present subtle brain-stem abnormalities which do not allow them to rouse when the level of oxygen drops.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado. They research was based on data about 400.000 children born in Colorado between 2007 and 2012. They discovered that infants from families living at an elevation of at least 8.000 feet or higher have a more than doubles risk of developing SIDS when compared to babies who live below 6.000 feet.
The investigators took into account a series of factors such as infant weight, maternal age and education, cigarette smoking an even the impact of the Back to Sleep campaign. This was a campaign which started in 1994 and recommended parent to lie infants on their back.
One of the possible reasons which could account for the results of the study is the mountain air. The air at high altitudes has less oxygen than the air at lower elevations. So the infant’s oxygen level is reduced and this is one of the main causes of SIDS. However researchers say that the exact reason to how mountain air threatens babies’ lives is not yet clear. More research needs to be conducted in order to determine if the link between the mountain air and SIDS is strong.
Although the findings of the study may be alarming only 0.8 cases of SIDS were discovered for every 1.000 infants who lived at high altitudes. Pediatric neurologist Dr. Marcel Deray of the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (Miami) was not involved in the study, but he said that the odds of developing SIDS are still very low. According to him the absolute risk is reduced and people should not panic over this.
The lead author of the study, cardiologist Dr. David Katz of the University of Colorado, was of the same opinion as Deray. He remarked:
“The absolute risk of SIDS remains very low, and … this is in no way a call to abandon residence in or visits to high-altitude”
Image Source: The Mom in Me, MD