The Challenges of Loss: SIDS and Miscarriage

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Loss in all forms can be hard to talk about but it is something a lot of people experience so it is important for those who provide resources to speak on topics like these. Not only does this bring awareness to parents, but it also helps promote health education for first-time parents who have questions about SIDS or miscarriages. In this blog entry, I will cover what SIDS and miscarriages are and if it is preventable, as well as provide resources to cope with loss.


What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS), according to the CDC, is used when an infant under the age of one died unexpectedly. SIDS can often occur while the infant is asleep or in the area they sleep due to unknown causes or accidental suffocation during sleep (CDC). In the United States, SUIDS/SIDS cases have decreased since the 1900s; however, 3,400 babies a year die suddenly from SUIDS/SIDS (CDC). Why are these deaths so unexpected and their cause unknown? When this happens, usually the caregiver or parent is not there when it happens, leaving the cause undetermined.



FACT

In Table 4, the data shown represents the trends in race and ethnicity for SUID cases at a state and national level. The CDC statistics show, per 100,000 live births, SUID rates for American Indian/Alaska Native (212.1) and non-Hispanic Black infants (186.9) were more than twice those of non-Hispanic White infants (84.9). In comparison, Hispanic (54.1) and Asian/ Pacific Islander infants (34.4) had the lowest rates. Why could this be? It could be due to different cultural practices, lack of education on proper sleeping positions, and other reasons I may not have mentioned.




According to the SUIDI Training Resources, some risk factors to SUID would be:

  • Stomach and side sleeping positions

  • Overheating

  • Soft sleep surfaces

  • Loose bedding

  • Inappropriate sleep surfaces (such as a sofa or water bed), Sharing the same sleep surface (such as a bed) with an individual other than a parent, or sharing the same sleep surface with an overly tired individual or under the influence of alcohol or drugs,

  • Maternal and secondhand smoking.


Is SIDS preventable?

In the article “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment,” there is a list of recommendations for not only mothers but also for policymakers and professionals who are around or take care of infants. The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to reduce the risk of SIDS an infant should be placed on their back (Supine Position) every time they sleep at least till the age of one. The infant’s sleeping area or bed should be a firm surface with fitted sheets with no loose bedding or soft objects surrounding them to reduce the risk of suffocation. If you are interested in learning more preventable ways to reduce the risk of SUIDS/SIDS, read more here from the Official Journal of American Academy Pediatrics.

What is a miscarriage?

The term miscarriage is defined as the loss of pregnancy according to the CDC, and its timeline of when it is considered a miscarriage could be controversial. A stillbirth is regarded as the same however, it is the loss of a baby before or after birth. According to the CDC, the difference is “in the United States, a miscarriage is usually defined as loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy, and a stillbirth is loss of a baby at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later.”

What happens before, during, and after a miscarriage is different for everyone. According to the Miscarriage Association, there are three different types of “natural” miscarriages. The three types are early loss, later loss, and an incomplete miscarriage. The difference between early and later loss is the timeline in which a “natural” miscarriage happens, both experience period-like cramps or cramps that mimic labor; however, with later loss, it is more likely to need hospital care (Miscarriage Association).


Can you prevent miscarrying?

Although preventing a miscarriage is ideal we only know ways to reduce the risk of experiencing a miscarriage. According to, A Garcı́a-Enguı́danos and authors, there are twenty-six risk factors that are associated with miscarrying. Below are a few risk factors, if you are interested in reading more about how these are associated with miscarrying read the review here.

  1. Caffeine

  2. Tobacco

  3. Alcohol

  4. Drugs

  5. Previous miscarriages

  6. Previous induced abortion

  7. Previous deliveries

  8. Maternal age

  9. Chromosomal aberrations

  10. Uterine anatomic defects

  11. Menstrual disorders

  12. Endocrine disorder

Coping after loss:

One thing I learned from the passing of loved ones and friends is there is no timeline to grieving. Everyone is different in the process of grieving and there is no such thing as a “normal” process. When I listen to the stories of parents coping after a pregnancy loss, quite often the parents tend to blame themselves. This is something I hope all parents grieving can let go of because blame is never on you as a parent especially if you did all you could to protect your pregnancy or child.


A great story I heard while writing this blog entry, was on the CCCN podcast with Michelle Lee Graham on “Loss, Adoption & Birth with Michelle Graham - CCCN April Coffee Connection.” Her story was very touching; however, before listening I do want to put a trigger warning as it does speak on sexual assault and trauma. By the end of her story, I was touched by the way she overcame her traumas and how she chose to grieve. So what are ways you can grieve or improve your mental health after a traumatic experience? Here are ways to cope from the Emotional Wellness Toolkit by The National Institutes of Health:

  • Brighten your outlook

  • Reduce stress

  • Get Quality Sleep

  • Cope with loss

  • Talk with friends

  • Find a grief support group

  • Talk to your doctor

  • Strengthen Social Connections

  • Be Mindful

SUIDS/SIDS Resources:

Miscarriage Resources:

Grief Resources:

Local Resources:

Authored by:

Bernice Nuñez, CCCN Intern 2021

UC Merced Public Health B.A. | Class of 2022

Connect with me on Linkedin

Read my previous blog entry


Sources:

A Garcı́a-Enguı́danos, M.E Calle, J Valero, S Luna, V Domı́nguez-Rojas, Risk factors in

miscarriage: a review, European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Volume 102, Issue

2, 2002, Pages 111-119, ISSN 0301-2115, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-2115(01)00613-3.

CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data. Rates

calculated via CDC WONDER using latest available data by subpopulation (2018).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 6). CDC - SUIDI Training

Resources - SIDS and SUID - Reproductive Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

https://www.cdc.gov/sids/TrainingMaterial.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 15). About SIDS and SUID. Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/sids/about/index.htm.

SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant

Sleeping Environment. (2016). Pediatrics, 138(5).

The physical process. The Miscarriage Association. (2020, July 24).

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/information/miscarriage/the-physical-process/


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