Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

High-Risk Newborns - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

What is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?

SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under 1 year of age. SIDS is sometimes called crib death because the death occurs when a baby is sleeping in a crib. It is the major cause of death in babies from 1 month to 1 year of age, occurring most often between 2 and 3 months of age. The death is sudden and unpredictable; in most cases, the baby seems healthy. Death occurs quickly, usually during a sleep time.

What causes SIDS?

The exact causes of SIDS are still unclear and research is ongoing. There are some factors which make babies more vulnerable to SIDS. Some risk factors are preventable, but others are not. Evidence has shown that some babies who die from SIDS have the following:

Who is at risk for SIDS?

About 2,300 babies in the United States die from SIDS each year. Some babies are more at risk than others. For example, SIDS is more likely when a baby is between 1 and 4 months old, it is more common in boys than girls, and most deaths occur during the fall, winter, and early spring months.

Factors that may place a baby at higher risk of dying from SIDS include the following:

How is SIDS diagnosed?

The diagnosis of SIDS is given when the cause of death remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes the following:

What can be done to decrease the risk for SIDS?

There currently is no way of predicting which babies will die from SIDS. However, there are a few measures parents can take to lower the risk of their baby dying from SIDS, including the following:

Are there any support groups for families who have experienced SIDS?

A SIDS death is a tragedy that affects family members and others as well. There are many support groups available that are experienced in helping families cope with a loss and work through their emotions associated with grieving. Consult your health care provider for recommended support groups in your community.

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