In an article entitled Robert Redford, Unedited in this month’s AARP magazine, the Academy Award-winning actor, film director, producer, environmentalist, philanthropist, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival opens a window onto the experiences that have shaped him. The wide ranging interview the now 75-year-old talks about everything: his childhood in Santa Monica, California, wanting to be an artist while living in Europe, moving from acting to directing, and the establishment of the Sundance Institute. One of the more poignant topics he discusses is the loss of his son at the age of 5 months of SIDS:
“It was really hard,” Redford says. “We were very young. I had my first theater job, which didn’t pay much. We didn’t know anything about SIDS, so the only thing you think is that you’ve done something wrong. As a parent, you tend to blame yourself. That creates a scar that probably never completely heals.”
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?
SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than one year old. It is the leading cause of death in children between one month and one year of age. Most SIDS deaths happen when babies are between 2 months and 4 months of age. Despite years of scientific research, exactly why SIDS occurs remains elusive. Many experts believe multiple factors are involved, such as differences in the brain that make them vulnerable to sudden death during infancy. Studies of SIDS victims reveal abnormalities in a portion of the brain that controls most of the baby’s major bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, temperature and the ability to wake from sleep. This abnormality may make a baby unable to cope with challenges in their environment that a healthy baby would be able to overcome. These challenges include tummy sleeping, bed sharing, use of soft bedding, overheating and tobacco exposure.
What groups are most at risk for SIDS?
How can I reduce the SIDS risk?
Health care providers don’t know what exactly causes SIDS, but they do know certain things can help reduce the risk of SIDS: