Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The term sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) refers to the sudden death of a baby who is less than 1 year old.  Authorities always conduct a formal investigation when a child dies, including a complete autopsy and medical records review.  This helps rule out other possible factors, such as abuse, accidents, or undiagnosed health issues.  Once completed, if the investigation concludes that the death is unexplained, authorities list SIDS as the cause.

Is My Baby at Risk?

SIDS is the leading cause of death for babies between the ages of one month to one year, but the majority of deaths from SIDS occur in infants between the ages of 2 to 4 months of age.  SIDS occurs across all socio-economic lines and in all races, although some races and ethnicities seem more prone to it.  Also known as crib death, the exact cause of SIDS continues to elude researchers.  Researchers and pediatricians believe that a deadly combination of several risk factors cause certain at-risk babies to die in this manner.  Some of the characteristics of at-risk infants include:

Male and African American or Native American
Mother used recreational drugs, smoked, or consumed alcohol during pregnancy
Premature birth
Low birth weight
Exposure to tobacco smoke after birth
Lack of adequate prenatal care
Mother under 20 years old
Excessive warm clothing or bedding
Sleeping on the stomach
Keep all well baby visits with your pediatric doctor


Always put your baby to sleep on his back or side and never on his stomach – not even for a short nap.  If your baby turns over to his stomach, gently move him to his back or side.  Use firm bedding on a mattress especially made for his crib.  Never place baby on a sheepskin, pillow, or comforter for sleep.  Keep pillows, bumpers, quilts, and plush toys, and all other bedding well away from baby’s face.  Keep the ambient temperature at a level that is comfortable for you and dress baby in light clothing.  Discuss these prevention techniques with your baby’s pediatric physician. He should have information about SIDS prevention for you to take home with you.

Skip the New Year’s Party

A 2010 study, conducted by David P. Phillips of the University of California, concluded that New Year’s Day brings with it a 33 percent spike in SIDS deaths.  The study, published in the academic journal Addiction, found a correlation between this spike in SIDS cases and heavy drinking the night before.  Phillips points out that just as overindulging in alcohol impairs people’s ability to perform tasks like driving, it also impairs their ability to properly care for and monitor the well being of their infants.  This does not suggest that you should not plan an evening out on the town for the New Year celebration or that you should not indulge in any alcoholic beverages.  Make proper care arrangements for your baby with a grandparent, trusted caregiver, or other family member before the night out.  This will ensure you can have a good time, free of worries about baby’s needs when you arrive home.

Final Considerations

While the thought of SIDS seems terrifying to new parents, don’t let fears and worries about it rob you of the joy of parenting.  Follow the guidelines given to you at the pediatric clinic and make certain all caregivers know to follow them as well.  Enjoy your baby as he grows; the time passes all too quickly.








Samantha Gluck is a writer who specializes in various topics including pediatric healthcare, OB/GYN healthcare, business and much more.

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