Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a serious risk for black American children. It is defined as the death of an infant from any cause, not including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome within three days of the cessation of breathing during the delivery or within five days of the birth. An infant’s death can be due to various causes such as suffocation, choking, asphyxia, viral or bacterial infections, malnutrition, complications from previous operations, etc. Premature infants who weigh less than five percent of their own body weight are more prone to death. Infants who cannot breathe or whose breathing became insufficient during the birthing process or the actual delivery process are also at a higher risk of death.
Several factors are believed to cause death in black infants. One of these causes is sudden infant death syndrome. It is believed that because of the child’s racial and ethnic characteristics, the chance of premature death is more significant for black children than for other children. This is why many health professionals and medical communities are continually working on research regarding this condition.
Another prevailing theory on the cause of death for this condition is exposure to a drug or alcohol. Studies have shown that children exposed to certain drugs or who drink heavily during pregnancy may suffer from this condition. Sudden infant death syndrome is not exclusive to black children only. Studies have shown that it also occurs in white children.
In addition to exposure to harmful substances, some babies are born prematurely, heightening their chances of death or disability. Premature infants have shorter life spans and are at higher risks of death or disability. Since the causes of death for many diseases differ by age, prematurity is often attributed to exposure to hazardous drugs during pregnancy. On the other hand, studies have shown that sudden infant death syndrome is an actual condition and not just a statistical error in judging the patient’s age.
African Americans may have a higher risk of death or disability in their first year of life than other children. It is not clear why this pattern exists, but experts believe that it has something to do with African American families’ genetic differences. Premature babies who die suddenly at birth are almost always attributed to SIDS, even if the cause of death is unclear. Given these facts, many doctors and researchers are conducting studies on preventing sudden infant death syndrome and finding ways to eliminate the condition. One possibility is for doctors to perform various tests on potential parents-to-be to determine the possibility of having an infant who may die suddenly.
Studies have shown that families who have died of any disease are more likely to have children who may die young. African American families seem to be less prone to premature deaths due to infectious diseases than other ethnic groups. This may be due to a lower rate of smoking and healthier eating habits. Another possible reason is that more African American children have asthma, bronchitis, and sinus problems than other children.