Checklist May Help You Identify If Your Baby Has SIDS Risk
Feb. 29, 2000 (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) -- A health assessment questionnaire known
as 'Baby Check' might help identify seriously ill babies at risk of sudden
death, particularly those who are at high risk, according to a study on sudden
infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the February issue of the British medical
journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
SIDS is a term used to describe the sudden death by unknown cause of an
apparently healthy infant during the first year of life.
"This paper gives clear evidence that Baby Check could be a useful tool
to empower parents to make informative decisions regarding their child's
health," says lead researcher Peter S. Blair, of the Royal Hospital for
Children in Bristol, England.
Kevin Winn, a leading SIDS expert not affiliated with the study, tells WebMD
that the study is important because it shows that "these babies are
different at birth, are different after hospital discharge, and are different
from normal babies in the 24 hours prior to their deaths. Those differences
show up in Baby Check scores."
"The results are striking," continues Winn, a pathologist at Emory
University School of Medicine and a member of the governing board of the
American SIDS Institute. "We can't look at any one, two, or even three of
these signs or symptoms for a definitive diagnosis, but parents and trained
health care providers can use this knowledge to determine which babies might be
most at risk."
The journal article describes a large scientific investigation designed to
compare SIDS babies -- as well as other infants whose deaths were explained but
unexpected -- with a large number of infants who did not die. The object of the
study was to determine if recognizing specific signs or symptoms might have led
to earlier recognition of the infants' illnesses.
The study included all sudden, unexpected deaths of infants ages 7 to 364
days during the three-year study period. There were 456 unexpected infant
deaths, of which 363 were classified as SIDS.
Trained interviewers visited bereaved families within days of their baby's
death and came back within two weeks to complete a detailed questionnaire -- a
modified form of the Baby Check. For each of these cases, researchers also
questioned the parents or caregivers of four other infants of about the same
age who did not die.
The Baby Check is based on seven symptoms and 12 signs, each of which
receives a score.
"We discovered that three of the 19 signs and symptoms occurred in a
significantly greater proportion of infants who died of SIDS than in the living
babies studied as a control group," explains Blair. "Those signs or
symptoms included [infants] being drowsy most of the time when awake, infants
wheezing, and infants taking less than half the normal amount of fluids in the
last 24 hours before their deaths."