What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an unexplained death of a child under one year of age, typically during sleep.

Cause

The exact cause is unknown, though research suggests that SIDS may be caused in part by defects of the area of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep. Ultimately, there are a combination of physical and environmental factors that influence the risk of SIDS.

Physical factors include:

  • Brain defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Respiratory infection

Environmental factors include:

  • Sleeping on the stomach or side rather than on the back
  • Sleeping on a soft surface
  • Overheating
  • Sharing a bed

Other Risk Factors

There are several other factors that increase the likelihood of SIDS:

  • Age – children are particularly susceptible between the second and fourth months of life
  • Sex – males are more likely to die of SIDS
  • Race – ethnic infants tend to develop SIDS more often than Caucasian infants
  • Prematurity
  • Family History – those with family members who have died from SIDS are more likely to die from SIDS themselves
  • Secondhand Smoke Exposure

SIDS is especially dangerous for a mother who:

  • Has an age less than 20 years old
  • Smokes, uses drugs or alcohol
  • Has had inadequate prenatal care

Prevention

SIDS is impossible to prevent, but there are a few steps that a parent can take to decrease the risk. We suggest following these safety tips:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep
  • Use a firm sleep surface for your infant
  • Avoid any items in the crib with infant
  • Avoid overheating
  • Place the child’s crib in your room for the first 6-12 months of age
  • Breastfeed
  • Offer your infant a pacifier without a strap

More Information From Genesis Pediatrics

For more information about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and how you can take steps to lower your baby’s risk, please speak to your Pediatrician.