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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Information

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is any sudden and unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant aged one month to one year. The term cot death is sometimes used in the United Kingdom, and crib death in North America...
  • SIDS is a definition of exclusion and should only apply to an infant whose death is sudden and unexpected, and remains unexplained after the performance of an adequate postmortem investigation including (1) an autopsy, (2) investigation of the scene and circumstances of the death and (3) exploration of the medical history of the infant and family. Generally, but not always, the infant is found dead after having been put to sleep and exhibits no signs of having suffered.

    SIDS is responsible for roughly 50 deaths per 100,000 births in the US. It is responsible for far fewer deaths than congenital disorders and disorders related to short gestation; though it becomes the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy babies after one month of age. The frequency of SIDS appears to be a strong function of infant gender (61% male) and the age, race, education, and socio-economic status of the parents.

    Though SIDS cannot be prevented absolutely, parents of infants are encouraged by pediatricians and popular parenting books to take several precautions in order to reduce the likelihood of SIDS.

    Place the infant on its back to sleep. Among the theories supporting this habit is the idea that the small infants with little or no control of their heads may, while face down, inhale their exhaled breath or smother themselves on their bedding. Another theory states that babies sleep more soundly when placed on their stomachs, and are unable to rouse themselves when they have an incidence of sleep apnea (e.g., breath-holding, which is thought to be common in infants).

    Only use a firm mattress with well fitted (tight) sheets in a crib or bassinet. No pillows, stuffed animals, or fluffy bedding should be used or placed in a crib. In cold weather dress the infant warmly in well fitted clothing. Wearable blankets are preferable over loose blankets. These directions also stem from the belief that small babies with little or no control of their bodies may inadvertently smother themselves in their sleep./li>

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