What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death or cot death because the infants often die in their cribs. It is the leading cause of death in infants under the age of one year old.

Although the cause is as yet unknown, it appears that SIDS might be associated with defects in the portion of an infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.

Researchers have discovered some factors that might put babies at extra risk. They’ve also identified measures you can take to help protect your child from SIDS. Perhaps the most important is placing your baby on his or her back to sleep.

Can sudden infant death syndrome be prevented?

A lack of answers is part of what makes SIDS so frightening. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old, and remains unpredictable despite years of research.

Although the cause of SIDS remains unanswered the risk of SIDS can be greatly reduced with the most important precaution being never put your baby to sleep face down on their stomachs or on their sides (as this means they can roll onto their front and get stuck). Babies younger than one year old should be placed on their backs to sleep.

It is thought that infants who die from SIDS may have a problem with the part of the brain that helps control breathing and waking during sleep. If a baby is breathing exhaled air and not getting enough oxygen, the brain usually triggers the baby to wake up and cry to get more oxygen. If the brain is not identifying this signal, oxygen levels will continue to fall.

Who Is at Risk for SIDS?

No single factor increases the risk of SIDS but more likely a combination of factors. Most victims of SIDS are between the ages of two and four months of age. More boys than girls die of SIDS

Other possible risks include:

  • Mother smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy and after birth
  • prematurity or low birth weight
  • family history of SIDS
  • mothers younger than 20 years of age
  • baby being around tobacco smoke after birth
  • baby overheating


SIDS is only diagnosed after all other possible causes of death

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