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What is SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the term used to describe the sudden death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause, even after a full investigation. This is sometimes called crib death. Researchers do not know what causes SIDS, but there are other factors that can put babies at higher risk, and steps families can take to help protect babies from SIDS. About 3,000 SUIDs occur in the United States every year. Of those, more than 1 in 3 are from SIDS.


Physical Factors

  1. Brain defects - There might be problems in the area of a baby’s brain that controls breathing and waking up from sleep, and also that part isn’t fully developed to function properly.

  2. Low birth weight and being part of multiple births – this increases the chance of the brain not being fully developed at the time of birth and less control over natural processes as breathing and heart rate.

  3. Respiratory Infection – cold

Sleep Factors 

  1. Sleeping on the stomach or side can increase risk of SIDS due to trouble breathing.

  2. Sleeping on soft surfaces, again sleeping face down on soft comforter, mattress can block the baby’s airway.

  3. Sharing a bed with parents, siblings or pets.

  4. Overheating – having a room that is too warm, optimal temperature for babies during sleep is 68 degrees.

Risk Factors 

(SIDS can happen to any baby, but there are other factors that increase the risk such as)

  1. Sex, boys are more likely to die from SIDS than girls.

  2. Age, high risk is between the 2-4months of and infant’s life.

  3. Race, SIDS occurs more in Black, Native American and Alaska Native infants.

  4. Family History, infants with siblings who died of SIDS are at higher risk of SIDS.

  5. Second-hand smoking, babies who live with adults who smoke have a higher risk of SIDS.

  6. Premature and Low Birthweight and Multiples, babies born early, twins and having low birth weight are at a higher risk of SIDS.

Risk Factors in Mothers

  1. Smoking during pregnancy

  2. Being younger than 20 at time of baby’s birth

  3. Use of drugs and alcohol

  4. Not receiving good and adequate medical care during pregnancy.


  1. Back to sleep - place the baby to sleep on their back and remember to use this position every time you or someone puts the baby to sleep.

  2. Keep items out of the crib, no stuffed animals, toys, pets. Use a firm flat mattress. Do not use thick fluffy padding, no pillows or crib bumpers.

  3. Do not overheat the baby, to keep the baby warm you can use a sleep sack or dress them in layers instead of using blankets and never cover the baby’s head.

  4. Have the baby sleep in your room, but not in the same bed. Have the baby sleep alone in a crib or bassinet with a mattress designed for infant bedding. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for at least 6months.

  5. Breastfeed your baby, if possible, for at least 6months to a year to lower the risk of SIDS.

  6. Use a pacifier, sucking on a pacifier at nap time or bedtime may reduce the risk of SIDS. Make sure the pacifier doesn’t have a strap or cord. If breastfeeding waits on using the pacifier until you have settled on a nursing routine, which is usually 3-4weeks.

  7. Vaccinate your baby, there is no evidence between vaccines and increases in the risk of SIDS. Some evidence shows that shots can help prevent SIDS. 

  8. Stay smoke and vape free during pregnancy and keep your baby’s surrounding smoke and vape free.

  9. Stay drub and alcohol-free during pregnancy.

  10. Avoid swaddling babies once they start to roll over, usually around 3 months of age.

  11. Give baby plenty of tummy time when they are awake to strengthen neck and core muscles.



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