What is SIDS and what’s the risk?

Jul 28, 2017

SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome, and the overall rate of infants unexpectedly dying in their sleep in the U.S. is less than 0.1 percent.

In other words, out every 100,000 live births in the U.S., 93 infants died from a sudden, unexpected cause before they turned a year old. More than 90 percent of those deaths occur within the first six months of life.

What causes SIDS?

While specific causes of death can’t be explained in every case, all SIDS deaths generally have to do with a child that stops breathing while sleeping. For one reason or another, a child encounters breathing problems and can’t naturally arouse themselves.

How can I reduce the risk of SIDS?

That said, not all babies are at the same risk, and health authorities recommend some common sense steps to almost entirely eliminate the risk:

  • Don’t smoke while pregnant or around infants.¬†Children whose mothers smoked while pregnant are estimated to be three to five times more likely to die of SIDS. Researchers have also estimated that 23 to 33 percent of all SIDS deaths can be attributed to mothers smoking while pregnant, because smoke has been found to developmentally impair children.
  • Don’t let children sleep on their stomachs. While once common, doctors have strongly recommended for about 25 years now that parents lay children on their backs to sleep to reduce the chance of suffocation.
  • Don’t let young children sleep with loose blankets, bedding or pillows. Anything that could potentially block a child’s airway should be avoided.
  • Don’t let young children sleep in bed with adults. This is advised to reduce the risks of parents rolling over and suffocating young children.

Why should I trust you?

In doing thorough research on this topic, we found these to be the most useful and factual sources. We recommend reading them if you’d like more in-depth information:

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