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SIDS Awareness Month: Know the Facts: When SIDS is Classified Wrong

/EIN News/ -- DETROIT, Oct. 11, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In arguably one of the most progressive countries in the world, 13 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every day. Secure Beginnings (, a Detroit based manufacturer of a revolutionary breathable crib mattresses is on a mission to lower these deaths.  These sudden and unexpected deaths are typically attributed to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). SIDS is a cause of death (COD) given when no scientific evidence is available for a medical examiner or pathologist to make a determination. It is a diagnosis of exclusion. If there is no scientific evidence to show that an infant died from a particular disease, condition, foul play, etc., it is up to the medical examiner or pathologist to make the determination. Some will list the COD as SIDS, and others will list it as asphyxiation. To further complicate matters, there are currently no universally accepted guidelines in the examination of these infant deaths. Seven years ago, public health officials at the CDC launched a case registry to log SIDS deaths. The idea was to track deaths at the state level, monitor trends, and to gather data that could improve death-scene investigations and might ultimately help prevent future deaths. Sadly, since 2009, this registry has only expanded from five states to 18. []

SIDS & Safe Sleep Awareness Month
SIDS & Safe Sleep Awareness Month

“The term 'sudden and unexpected infant death' (SUID) or SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) are used to describe all such deaths, regardless of cause. Cases of SUID/SIDS that remain unexplained after a complete autopsy and review of the circumstances of death and clinical history are classified as SIDS… and accounts for 80 of such deaths [National Institutes of Health, US National Library of Medicine].”

What is the cause of SIDS? The answer is regrettably unclear. “It is unclear whether SIDS occurs during sleep itself or during the many transitions between sleep and arousal that occur during the night, since such deaths are typically not witnessed. No single definition of SIDS is universally accepted, and contradictions among SIDS studies are due in part to the use of various definitions of the syndrome around the world [National Institutes of Health, US National Library of Medicine].”

Since SIDS is incredibly hard to nail down as a specific cause of death, and there are many other factors at play, many medical examiners and pathologists distinguish sudden infant deaths as SIDS. But this is not truly accurate. Because it is such a gray area, 85% of all infant deaths that are ruled SIDS are believed to be asphyxiation [].

Unfortunately, for many people, they use the words “asphyxiation” and “suffocation” interchangeably. This also is a source of confusion. While suffocation means that the air is blocked from entering the body, asphyxiation is when a substance (in most cases carbon dioxide) interferes with the oxygenation of the tissues. Both can result in death.

As a parent, the best way to keep your child safe from suffering from positional asphyxiation is to follow these simple steps:

Put babies in safe sleep environments. Examples of unsafe sleeping environments can include:

  • Couches
  • Waterbeds
  • Adult beds
  • Beanbag chairs
  • Pillows
  • Cribs with sheepskin, quilts or other soft surfaces
  • Infants sharing a bed with others
  • Cribs with mattresses that don’t fit properly

Keep your infant in a safe sleep position. An unsafe position would include:

  • Sleeping on their tummy
  • Side sleeping
  • Sleeping in an infant carrier, car seat, or swing
  • Sleeping with their face against soft surfaces, including parent’s chest
  • Sleeping with their head covered

Prevention of positional asphyxia includes:

  • Placing infants on their back to sleep for every sleep.
  • Putting infants to sleep in their own crib or bassinet with a firm mattress that fits well and no extra bedding/pillows/quilts/soft toys in the area.
  • To promote breastfeeding, the baby should be in the same room as the mother, but while sleeping should be in his/her own crib/bassinet.

In Australia it is suggested that, “Breathable mattresses are the best for baby cribs; they allow the baby to breathe freely even when they sleep with their face pressed up against them” [].  There is currently only one company in the U.S. that offers a breathable crib mattress similar to those available in Australia, Secure Beginnings.  There are a few other U.S. companies that claim to have products that are breathable, but we were not able to find any, with the exception of the Secure Beginnings products, that allows an infant to breathe freely with their face pressed up against them.   I was equally impressed with the Secure Beginnings’ test data that surpasses all the required crib mattress testing in the U.S.  including testing supporting these mattresses do not trap carbon dioxide associated with asphyxiation deaths.  For more information on these revolutionary crib mattresses, visit You can also find peer-reviewed published medical data supporting the use of Breathable Crib Mattresses. 

There is no catch-all to ensure your child is not a victim of SIDS or positional asphyxiation.  However, there are many ways to significantly reduce the risk.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


Julie Andreae
2699 Guoin Street, Suite 100
Detroit, MI 48207