More Information for New Parents about SIDS
October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness month. Each year in the United States approximately 2,500 infant deaths are attributed to SIDS. SIDS is the leading cause of death for babies one month to one year of age. Most deaths occur when a baby is between two and four months, but the risk is present for the first year of life.
SIDS is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene and a review of the medical history.
Unfortunately SIDS cannot be predicted. Healthcare providers and researchers don’t know the exact causes of SIDS, but they do know important steps that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the riskof SIDS as well as suffocation and accidents during sleep.
Connecticut has mirrored the United States, experiencing a greater than 40% reduction in SIDS rates since 1994. Experts believe this is attributable to the national public health campaign “Back to Sleep” encouraging health care providers and the public to put infants to sleep on their back.
It is important to remember that SIDS deaths can occur in any family and across all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic groups. Research has demonstrated that African American babies have a 2 times greater risk of SIDS and Native American infants have a threefold increased risk. More infant boys than girls are the victims of SIDS.
Safe Sleeping Practices
Always place babies on their backs to sleep during naps and bedtime. Side and tummy sleep positions are not safe. Babies who sleep on their tummies have a 5 times greater risk of SIDS.
Do not fall asleep with a baby in an adult bed or on a sofa. Babies who sleep in an adult bed have a 40 times greater risk of SIDS.
For sleep, use a safety approved crib with a firm mattress that fits snugly. Cover mattress with a tight fitting sheet.
Do not use loose blankets in baby’s crib. Layer clothing or use a sleeper to keep baby warm during sleep. Remove all soft bedding and other soft items including bumpers from the sleep area.
Do not place babies on soft surfaces such as couches, chairs, waterbeds, quilts, sheepskins and adult beds. Babies who sleep on soft bedding have a 5 times greater risk of SIDS and babies who sleep on their tummies on top of soft bedding have a 21 times greater risk.
Try not to overheat babies with too much clothing or a too warm room. Keep the room temperature at what would be comfortable for a lightly dressed adult.
Do not smoke while you are pregnant and do not expose your baby to secondhand smoke after they are born. Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy have a 3 times greater risk of SIDS and babies who breathe secondhand smoke have a 2.5 times greater risk.
For more information about SIDS and the Safe to Sleep campaign visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/ or http://www.cdc.gov.