SIDS Practice Questions with Answers and NCLEX® Review

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexpected death of an infant less than one year old. It occurs most frequently during sleep in infants less than six months.

SIDS Practice Questions with Answers and Practice Questions

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Table of contents

    Introduction & Pathophysiology of SIDS

    SIDS results from underlying vulnerabilities in infants that is triggered by a specific event at a vulnerable developmental stage. The now discredited “apnea theory” of SIDS was proposed in the 1970s

    Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a dangerous intersection of three factors: a vulnerable infant, a critical developmental period in homeostatic control, and exogenous stressors. 

    While there is no known cure or treatment for SIDS, there are several nursing interventions that can help prevent SIDS and ensure the safety of infants.

    SIDS Age Range

    Though most SIDS deaths occur in babies between one and four months of age, 90% of them happen before the baby turns six months old. However, a SIDS death can happen anytime during the first year.

    SIDS peaks at two to four months, and typically occurs in the early morning hours when most babies are asleep. This suggests that sleep may be part of the pathophysiological mechanism that causes SIDS.

    Why does SIDS peak at 2-4 months?

    SIDS is most common at two to four months of age, when an infant’s cardiorespiratory system is in transition and, therefore unstable. This puts all infants in this age range at risk for breathing problems.

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    Signs and Symptoms of SIDS

    • Lethargy, irritability, poor muscle tone
    • Respiratory distress: Apnea or Tachypnea
    • Heart rate instability
    • Temperature instability
    • Vomiting and diarrhea 
    • Poor feeding
    • Blood glucose instability

    SIDS Risk Factors

    • Boys are at higher risk than girls
    • Low APGAR score at birth
    • Exposure to smoke
    • Bed sharing
    • Giving birth before 37 weeks gestation
    • Soft bedding material
    • Side sleeping position (versus back)

    Nursing Interventions For SIDS

    • Monitor for signs of distress or irregular breathing patterns.
    • Perform cultures and lab draws.
    • Provide IV access – as well as emotional and practical support to family (including grief counseling, referrals to support groups, and assistance with funeral arrangements).

    SIDS Client Education

    1. Place infants in the supine position during sleep
    2. Dress newborn in a wearable blanket or sleep sack
    3. Breastfeed the infant
    4. Have up to date vaccinations
    5. Ensure a smoke-free environment
    6. Provide a firm sleep surface for the infant
    7. Avoid:
      • Sleeping with the infant (NO bed-sharing, NO cosleeping)
      • Pillows
      • Loose or soft items: blankets, toys
      • Stuffed animals
      • Bumper pads on the sides of the crib

    Neonatal Sepsis

    Infection contracted by the neonate before, during, or after delivery, due to the newborn’s limited immunity and inability to localize infection, infections can spread quickly into the bloodstream.

    Neonatal sepsis is a serious medical condition affecting newborns, leading to significant morbidity and mortality.

    Clinical signs of neonatal sepsis may include fever or hypothermia, tachycardia, tachypnea, poor feeding, lethargy, and apnea.

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