SIDS is a very sensitive issue and it’s extremely important that we know the facts and what is expected of a loving parent, grandparent or guardian. Please review the below information, practice the possible solutions described and follow the links to learn more about preventing SIDS.

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) Sudden unexpected infant deaths are defined as infant deaths that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose manner and cause of death are not immediately obvious prior to investigation. Each year in the United States, more than 4,500 infants die suddenly of no obvious cause. Half of these Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) are due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the leading cause of SUID and of all deaths among infants aged 1–12 months.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants aged 1–12 months, and is the third leading cause overall of infant mortality in the United States. Although the overall rate of SIDS in the United States has declined by more than 50% since 1990, rates have declined less among non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native infants. Preventing SIDS remains an important public health priority. 

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:

  • Always place babies on their backs to sleep – Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides.  Placing your baby on his or her back to sleep is the number one way to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Use the back sleep position every time – Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS.  So it is important for babies to sleep on their backs every time, for naps and at night.
  • Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as a safety-approved *crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet – Never place a baby to sleep on a pillow, quilt, sheepskin, or other soft surface.
  • Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area – Don’t use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, or pillow-like bumpers in your baby’s sleep area.  Keep all items away from the baby’s face.
  • Avoid letting your baby overheat during sleep – Dress your baby in light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
  • Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing your baby down to sleep, but don’t force the baby to take it.  (If you’re breastfeeding, wait until your child is 1 month old, or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.)

* For more information on crib safety, visit http://www.cpsc.gov.

The NICHD’s publication Safe Sleep for Your Baby: Reduce the Risk of SIDS gives a complete list of ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.

What groups are most at risk for SIDS?

  • Babies who are placed to sleep on their stomachs or sides are at higher risk for SIDS than babies who are placed on their backs to sleep.
  • African American babies are more than two times as likely to die of SIDS as white babies.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native babies are nearly three times as likely to die of SIDS as white babies.

Will my baby develop flat spots on his or her head from back sleeping?

For the most part, flat spots on a baby’s head go away a few months after the baby learns to sit up.  There are other ways to reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head, such as:

  • Providing Tummy Time when your baby is awake and someone is watching.  Tummy Time not only helps prevent flat spots, but it also helps a baby’s head, neck, and shoulder muscles get stronger. 
 

 

It is important to remember that this information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Diagnosis and treatment should be done only by your health care provider. For more information contact your local health department or physician.