Written by Staff Writer at CNN
A surge in cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has put the Dominican Republic on alert.
The country has seen an unusually high number of sudden infant deaths (SIDS) cases in the past year and has blamed exposure to loud music for spiking the rate.
Over a quarter of all deaths in Dominica, from the Dominican Republic, are attributed to prematurity or adverse conditions during pregnancy, and experts have long been troubled by the rate of SIDS cases in the Dominican Republic.
Experts are warning that infant mortality levels need to be reduced in the Dominican Republic to curb brain-damaging brain bleeding in premature babies. Credit: Mynikov/Central European News/ZUMA Press/Corbis
On Monday, the Dominican Prime Minister admitted a suspected case of infant death could have been caused by exposure to loud music during the final days of the month.
In response, police broke down a lock on the apartment building where the case occurred and began searching for evidence.
The suspect in question, who had recently moved into the building, is now under investigation.
The presence of music in the Dominican Republic is a contentious subject. The situation has been disputed by parents, medical experts and even some media sources.
While experts from the government and the city of Santo Domingo would like to find a solution, they have been blocked by the culture of silence within the population.
It is a problem that many commentators — from worldwide brands to national newspapers — seem unaware of.
How loud is too loud?
As well as at risk of brain injury, the syndrome can lead to severe behavioral problems in later life.
Stress and a lack of stimulation can also lead to a risk of depression in children. It is estimated that up to 80% of babies in babies are not exposed to proper nurturing during infancy.
Then there are the psychological effects of deprivation.
SIDS cases have been increasing in the Dominican Republic, with an estimated 26 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is up from 19 per 100,000 live births in 2013, according to medical journal The Lancet.
Many parents understand that the condition could be connected to loud music, given that in Puerto Rico, similar behavior has led to a baby being killed during the same week as the Dominica case.
However, many remain skeptical.
Maria Rosario, a mother from Santo Domingo, told CNN: “I listened to a lot of music when I was pregnant. I still listen to music now that my son is 2 years old.”
Rosario believes that in trying to prevent SIDS cases, the authorities are looking to solve an “issue that doesn’t exist.”
The Dominican Attorney General’s Office has confirmed that the matter will be investigated.
SIDS has also been monitored by medical authorities in several countries including United States, Mexico, United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The problem of exposure to loud music during the first week of the month seems to originate from the diurnal rhythm — when mothers should be allowing their babies to fall asleep due to the cycle of day-night cycles.
According to Alicia Maquinas, Director of the National Competence Center for Child and Human Health, excessive noise can lead to brain damage in babies.
“In children, there is a large change in the rate of brain damage after a child is born and after a child reaches its first month.
She told CNN, “If babies are exposed to a lot of noise, this would be a cause of brain damage in a lot of children in the Dominican Republic.”
Though the probability of a baby dying because of SIDS remains extremely low, experts in the Dominican Republic are focused on reducing the risk.
Carolina Fonseca, one of the country’s most prominent advocacy groups, is relying on people’s fears to act as a way to raise awareness.
Fonseca said: “It’s a good number (of cases); it’s something we have to be vigilant about because any one of these is too many.”
Fonseca added that most people were suspicious of the findings, especially when faced with a situation like this, but said: “I hope that people realize this is just a terrible statistic that we have and realize that we have to do something about it.”