What Kills Babies?
The number of babies that die before they reach their first birthday is a tragedy that affects hundreds of thousands of families every year. To better understand what causes these deaths, it is important to explore some of the main factors that contribute to them.
A premature birth is one of the leading causes of death among babies. Premature babies are at greater risk of developing serious health problems, including respiratory and heart problems, brain haemorrhages, infections, and problems with nutrition. These health problems can lead to death, or long-term complications that can significantly decrease the quality of life for a baby.
This is another leading cause of death among babies. Birth defects can be genetic or acquired, and can range from mild physical deformities to life-threatening conditions such as spina bifida, heart defects, and neural tube defects. Babies born with a birth defect are at a much greater risk of death than those who are born without, especially if the defect is severe or life-threatening.
Infectious Disease and Illness
Infectious diseases and illness can lead to the death of a baby in several ways. Bacterial infections such as meningitis, sepsis, and pneumonia can all be deadly for a baby. Viral illnesses like influenza and malaria can also cause death in a baby, especially if the baby’s immune system is not strong enough to fight off the infection.
Babies can also die due to medical complications. Complications during pregnancy or delivery can lead to a baby’s death, such as if the placenta detaches prematurely, if there is a decrease in the oxygen supply to the baby, or if the baby is born with a low birth weight due to complications.
Accidents are another leading cause of death in babies. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for babies less than a year old, and can be caused by anything from an unsafe sleeping environment to a toddler climbing in bed with the baby. Physical trauma, including abuse, is another leading cause of accidental death in infants and young children.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent many of the causes of death in babies. Steps to take include:
- Having regular prenatal care throughout the pregnancy, to identify and address any potential health problems.
- Getting vaccinations for you and your baby, to protect them from harmful diseases.
- Being aware of SIDS prevention recommendations, such as having a safe sleeping environment and using breathing monitors.
- Ensuring your baby gets adequate nutrition, both before and after birth.
- Recognizing the signs of child abuse, and taking immediate action if needed.
By taking these steps and being aware of the main causes of death for babies, you can make sure your baby is as safe as possible.