SIDS Fact Sheet
What is SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a complete investigation, including:
1 an autopsy;
2 examination of death scene; and
3 review of medical history.
In the United States, SIDS is the major cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age, with most deaths occurring between two and four months. SIDS happens in families of all social, economic and ethnic groups. SIDS is not contagious, predictable or preventable. SIDS is sudden and silent, occurring most often during sleep, with no signs of suffering. Terms used in the past to describe SIDS include “crib death” or “cot death.”
How Common is SIDS?
The SIDS rate
has dropped dramatically. However,
there are still approximately 2,500 infants that die of SIDS every year in the
What Causes SIDS?
The cause(s) of SIDS is still unknown. However, it is generally accepted that SIDS is a combination of factors or events. A leading theory is that an infant who appears to be healthy has an underlying defect located in the brain stem. This area in the brain controls heart and lung functions, including heart rate and breathing. SIDS studies indicate some babies have a delay in the development of or an abnormality in the part of the brain which is involved in breathing and waking. Babies born with this abnormality may be more vulnerable to sudden death.
Other factors could also play a role in SIDS. For example, if an infant with an underlying problem is exposed to other factors or stressors, such as secondhand smoke or sleeping on their stomach, the infant is at a higher risk of dying from SIDS.
Because the exact cause of SIDS remains unknown and there is no way of predicting which infants are at a higher risk, it is important to eliminate the risk factors that can be controlled. These factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, tummy sleeping and other unsafe sleep practices.
What are the SIDS Risk Factors?
What can I do to Reduce the Risk of SIDS?
Back to Sleep Campaign
It is important to remember there is no way to prevent SIDS. We do know that babies sleep safer when placed on a firm surface on their back. The Back to Sleep Campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development American Academy of Pediatrics, the SIDS Alliance (now First Candle/ SIDS Alliance), the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of Health Resources and Services Administration to help inform parents and caregivers of the importance of back sleeping. Since the introduction of the Back to Sleep Campaign, the number of SIDS deaths has dropped by over 50 percent nationwide. For more information on the Back to Sleep Campaign, visit the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development web site at www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/sids.cfm.
American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 SIDS Policy Recommendations
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its policy statement regarding SIDS based on recent research studies. Recommendations now include:
· Back to sleep for every sleep until one year of life
· Use a firm sleep surface, such as a crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet
· Room-sharing without bed-sharing is recommended
· Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation
· Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care
· Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth
· Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth
· Breastfeeding is recommended
· Consider offering a pacifier at nap time and bedtime
· Avoid overheating the baby
· Infants should be immunized in accordance with recommendations of the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
· Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS
· Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS
· Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended to facilitate development and to minimize development of positional plagiocephaly
information on the
SIDS and Bed-Sharing
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, bed-sharing is not recommended. Bed-sharing has not been found to be protective against SIDS, and bed-sharing increases the risk of accidental suffocation and overlay. However, room sharing may be protective against SIDS. Placing the baby in a safety approved crib or bassinet near the adult bed will allow parents to remain close to the baby while providing a safe sleep environment.
Can Vaccinations Cause SIDS?
Recent studies conclude routine vaccinations are not risk factors for SIDS. Because vaccinations typically begin at age 2-4 months, the peak age for SIDS, many people have associated vaccinations with the increased risk of SIDS. The association of vaccinations and SIDS has been studied for several years, and reports conclude routine vaccinations do not contribute to SIDS. In fact, infants who have been vaccinated have a decreased risk of SIDS.
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