Today I am going to address some sacred cows, and it may anger you, but this is life as I see it.
1) SIDS is always preventable.
Society presents every death as preventable. They aren't. This is something to give comfort and keep bubbles of peace intact. Parents have lost babies while they were sitting upright holding them, in cribs devoid of blankets or bumpers. Some of the advice presented hasn't even held up under research.
This also feeds into the perception by some that unexpected infant deaths are murder. Not true. The public clings to the one story because then they can lie and say that they can prevent their own child from dying.
2) SIDS or unexpected death is never preventable.
Parents cling to this belief because we absolutely want to believe that nothing can be done, sometimes to the extent that if you personally believed you could have prevented your child from dying you are an outcast. (BUT I don't think that the vast majority of deaths currently classified as SIDs could have been prevented. Even with increasing categorization of infant deaths as suffocation, there is a core that is unexplainable.)
However, this is not to say that we shouldn't teach safe sleep practices, because we could save some babies. A normal baby shouldn't die just because it is left on it's tummy, but the practice of putting babies to sleep on their backs drastically cut the rate of unexplained deaths. If a practice increases survival rates, while it shouldn't necessarily be touted as 'SIDS prevention', it should be taught. Avoiding hurt feelings are not worth any babies life.
My personal theory is that the majority of the babies that die have a protective mechanism missing. Something that when oxygen levels fall they don't stir or react appropriately. I think it is genetic (the ratios of boy to girl deaths are what you would expect if the protective mechanism were inherited on the X chromosome). Here is where it gets dicey. These ratios (SIDS) are also found in many cause of suffocation/choking deaths that are labeled as preventable. This ratio not found in deaths unrelated to airway/breathing.
I believe that there is a possibility that this mechanism is defective to differing degrees, and that these children are more susceptible to suffocation as a result of not responding appropriately to challenges. I look at it kind of like a blood bleeding disorder. Some are so susceptible that they die early on from unperceivable causes that may be internal, others are not affected as much by the disease, but you would never place them around sharp objects. Normally a simple cut would not kill a normal person, but it can kill someone who doesn't clot quickly enough.
I guess I am just tired of feeling like I am getting it from all sides. I think my Son's death was preventable, but I am not sure if every baby would have paid the same price (there were a few earlier incidents that are making me question if Perry responded appropriately to threats, once he stopped breathing in a pool although his head/torso was above water, and while he was aware the entire time, he only started breathing when we rubbed him with a towel). I hate that SIDS parents are fighting teaching safe practices that may have saved my son. I hate that I see so many pictures of similar sleeping environments in pictures with babies, some even worse.
In the end what does it matter if a death is classified as SIDS or suffocation? Is it any less tragic? The repercussions any less other than added guilt? If there is any chance of saving just one baby, why don't we work harder? We will send kids books so that they learn how to read, but will not send parents home with sleep sacks.
We will raise thousands of dollars for a spay and neuter program, but is anyone doing this for sleep sacks and safe sleeping environments? Why is a stray worth more than a child? I love pets, but our society is messed up.