Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sudden Infant Death

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)  is the condition given by the coroner when no other cause or explanation for the death of a child under the age of one can be found.    SIDS occurs most often to children between the ages of two and four months.  A greater number of deaths happen during the winter months, and the most deaths happen to children under the age of six months. 

Researchers believe that rather that a single cause of SIDS, there are events that place an infant at a  greater risk for  a combination of factors  that may cause death.  The number one factor in SIDS is the infant’s sleep position.  Since 1992  the  experts have advised parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs.  This alone has reduced the number of SIDS cases by 50%.   Sleeping on their back, opens the airway, reducing the chance of  SIDS.

·         Other risk facts include:

·         Exposure to tobacco smoke, even the residue on a caregiver’s clothes. 

·         Low Birth Weight

·         Mother’s age at birth  and/ or  lack of prenatal care

·         Child’s Race.  (African American infants are twice as likely at Caucasian infants to be affected by SIDS and  American Indian and Alaskan Native babies are three times more likely than a white baby to die of SIDS.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that parents of young infants always  put their infants to sleep on their backs, even for naps .  Parents need to make sure that all of their caregivers are consistently placing the baby on its back.  A higher number of SIDS deaths occur when a normally back sleeping baby is placed on its stomach for a nap. 

Another recommendation from the  National Institute of Child Health, is about the bed itself.  An infant’s bed should be free of toys, pillows, blankets or crib padding.  Many new parents want to decorate the baby’s crib to match their nursery.  An infant’s sleep area should consist of a firm mattress and sheet.  If the weather dictates using a blanket, the  blanket should be tucked into the sides and bottom of the mattress and only cover the baby about waist high.  This is so keep the baby’s face from becoming covered and re-breathing their expelled air.

Co-sleeping is considered a risk factor of SIDS. If you bring your baby to bed to breast-feed, make sure to return them to their own bed to avoid the baby becoming overheated or turned in a position that may restrict their breathing.

World-wide rates of SIDS have declined dramatically since the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign began in the U.S. in 1992 and around the world over the following years.  I have included a graph, which indicates the number of SIDS death over the last decades.

Graphic trends in PNM and SIDS rates: 1990–2005. aRates were halved to keep comparisons of countries on the same scale; bdata were unavailable at the time of submission for 2005 SIDS rates.
                                               (Hauck & Tanabe, 2008)

While I do not have any personal experience with SIDS, I do work with families and young infants everyday.  I alays try to make new parents aware of the risk factors and help them make  changes that will lower their infant’s risk.


American S. I. D. S. Institute. (2009). Reducing the risk of SIDS. Retrieved from

Hauck, F. R., & Tanabe, K. O. (2008, September 1). International trends in sudden infant death syndrome: Stabilization of rates require further action. [Electronic version]. Pediatrics, 3.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (Publisher). (2005). Safe sleep for you baby


Kathryn Price said...

This was useful information. I do not have children, but I will be educating myself about these risk factors when I do. Do you know why African American children are more likely to suffer from SID? I would be curious to know why this happens. I also feel that it is important for an infant to sleep in their crib. I always get nervous when I hear a parent say that their child sleeps with them, especially at such a young age.

Janille said...


I loved reading your blog on SIDS! This topic really "hits home" for me. I have experienced some SIDS in my own family. Its so good that there's tons of information to become educated on, in hopes to prevent this horrific syndrome!


Rebekah said...

What a great post on SIDS. I know a little about SIDS, but not much. This was very informative--the information you share on your discussion posts and blogs is so informative. I love reading others information because they research topics in a way I wouldn't have. Thank you so much!

tiffany said...

SIDS is no joke. When my brother was born he was alive and well, at 4 days he was pronounced dead after 2 minutes of not breathing, the dr.s said it was likely SIDS. My mother grabbed him and began her frantic version of CPR, and maybe it was just that "franticness" that he needed because he came back to us, and is to day alive and well almost 30 years later. The dr.s could never explain what happened, but we are thankful that the Lord gave him back to us. Smoking while pregnant is no joke and every time I see things like that all I can do is shake my head, I want to walk up to the motehr and shake her but that would probably be frowned upon....

Kelsy Richardson said...

Stacey, I recently just took a trainning class on SID. It is amazing that when we where younger, our parents laid us on our backs, stomachs,and our sides, I think this information should be a part of prenatal classes for new mothers, just to educate them a little bit.