Sudden infant death syndrome: Parents' perceptions and responses to the loss of their infant

Authors

  • Dr. Reg Arthur Williams,

    Corresponding author
    • Chairperson, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, University of Michigan, 400 North Ingalls, Box 050, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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    • Dr. Reg Arthur Williams is an associate professor in the School of Nursing of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ms. Sally M. Nikolaisen is an instructor in the School of Nursing of Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington. Dr. Williams and Ms. Nikolaisen were faculty members in the School of Nursing of the University of Washington, Seattle, when this study was conducted.

  • Sally M. Nikolaisen

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    • Dr. Reg Arthur Williams is an associate professor in the School of Nursing of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ms. Sally M. Nikolaisen is an instructor in the School of Nursing of Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington. Dr. Williams and Ms. Nikolaisen were faculty members in the School of Nursing of the University of Washington, Seattle, when this study was conducted.


Abstract

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the number one killer of infants under one year of age. Families are left in a state of crisis after a baby dies of SIDS. Thus, crisis counseling has been offered routinely to SIDS parents in King County, Washington. The purpose of this retrospective study was to assess whether mothers differed significantly from fathers in their perception of the situation, their feelings experienced and expressed, their approaches to problem solving, and the support they received. Differences in reactions between single and married parents were also studied. The 48% return rate produced a sample of 54 parents, 37 mothers and 17 fathers, who had lost their infant to SIDS. Statistically significant differences were found between mothers and fathers, as well as between single and married parents, in their view of the SIDS event, their problem solving approaches, and support systems. The results provide useful information for nurses in counseling SIDS parents and in working with families during and after subsequent pregnancies.

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