Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:49 by admin
SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome also known as crib death. About 2,500 infants under the age of one, die from SIDS in the U.S. every year according to the National Center for Health statistics. The incidence of SIDS may be underestimated because death is often attributed to another cause. Even so, it is the leading cause of death among infants.  

The cause of SIDS is unknown but the National Institutes of Health spends about 76 million a year on researching the cause.  SIDS may not have a single cause but may be the result of several different factors.

What We Do Know

Parents and all child caregivers should be trained in CPR.  If a child is not breathing, immediately call 911.

SIDS death rates have been cut in half since the 1990’s when a public health campaign urged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs.  Reducing exposure to second hand smoke was also targeted as a risk factor for SIDS.

SIDS occurs when a baby is sleeping and usually without any warning.  Most cases of SIDS occur between two and four months of age.  The vast majority of cases, 90%, occur before six months of age. And the winter months, peaking in January, see the most cases of SIDS.  There appears to be no signs of struggle by the infant during a SIDS death.

SIDS occurs at a greater rate among Native and African Americans.  It affects more boys than girls.

According to the National Institutes of Health, these factors raise the risk of SIDS:

  • Babies who sleep on their stomachs
  • Babies who sleep in the same bed as their parents
  • Babies who have soft bedding in the crib
  • Multiple birth babies
  • Premature babies
  • Babies with a sibling who had SIDS
  • Mothers who smoke or use illegal drugs
  • Teen mothers
  • Short time period between pregnancies
  • Late or no prenatal care
  • Situations of poverty

Parents who lose a child to SIDS usually feel tremendous responsibility and guilt and need to seek counseling. Support groups include:


More guidelines on prevention from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) include an encouragement to breast feed your baby, make sure the room is not too hot, let the baby sleep with a pacifier,  discourages parents from using breathing monitors and never give honey to an infant less than one year old since it may encourage botulism.
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