SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

What you need to know about SIDS:

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age that cannot be explained following a thorough case investigation that includes an autopsy, a death scene investigation and a review of the clinical history. The syndrome is sometimes called crib death, because the death is usually associated with sleep and often occurs while a baby is sleeping in a crib.

SIDS is the leading cause of postneonatal (1 month to 1 year of age) death of babies in the United States. Ninety percent of SIDS deaths occur within the first 6 months of life, with the rate peaking between 1 to 4 months. Death comes suddenly and unpredictably, usually during sleep. In most cases, the baby seems healthy before death. Currently, the cause of SIDS is unknown. The possibility of the syndrome affecting your baby is very frightening. But knowing more about it and taking certain very specific precautions can reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS.

Risk factors for SIDS include:

  • placing a baby on his side or stomach to sleep, rather than on his back
  • premature or low birth weight babies
  • overheating the baby during sleep
  • sleeping on too soft a surface, with loose blankets and bumper pads
  • having a sibling who died of SIDS, or a family history of failure to thrive.

While SIDS can affect any family, it often strikes babies whose mothers:

  • are under 20 years old when their babies are born
  • smoke during pregnancy
  • have received little or no prenatal care

Precautions that reduce the risk of SIDS include:

  • placing your baby on his back to sleep
  • using a firm sleep surface a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet is recommended
  • keeping the baby’s crib free of loose, fluffy blankets and stuffed animals
  • ensuring that your baby has a smoke-free environment
  • making sure your baby doesn’t get too hot while he sleeps
  • making sure the mother gets early and proper care while pregnant
  • breastfeeding the baby

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