Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Causes, Risk factors and Tips to Help Prevent SIDS Update 06/2024

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a syndrome in which a healthy baby under the age of a year suddenly dies while sleeping for no apparent reason. It is also referred to as “crib death” since newborns commonly die in their cribs when they are suffering from SIDS.

An infant’s brain’s part that governs respiration and waking from sleep may be defective in SIDS deaths, according to preliminary research.

Some elements that may increase the risk to newborns have been uncovered by researchers. In addition, they’ve found steps you may take to help prevent SIDS in your child. When it comes to putting your kid to sleep, placing him or her on their back is probably the most crucial.

What Is SIDS?

The unexpected and unexplained death of a newborn under the age of one year is known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Since most SIDS deaths occur when a child is sleeping, it is commonly referred to as “crib death.”

Who Is at Risk for SIDS?

Temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit are associated with a spike in the number of deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS may be more likely to strike a baby if:

  • During and after her pregnancy, their mother smoked, drank, or used drugs.
  • Unfortunately, their mother had subpar prenatal care.
  • It is possible that they were born preterm or with a low birth weight.
  • There is a history of SIDS in the family.
  • When they were born, their mothers were all under the age of twenty.
  • Their exposure to tobacco smoke begins before conception.
  • They get too hot to handle.

Symptoms are used by doctors to diagnose the majority of health issues. When all other causes of death have been ruled out, SIDS is identified. True SIDS deaths can be distinguished from those caused from accidents, maltreatment or previously undetected cardiac abnormalities.

Why Is SIDS Dangerous?

When a baby is put to sleep on its stomach, it is more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s also a bad idea to put babies to sleep on their sides. When a baby is sleeping, he or she can easily roll over to the belly from the side.

The airway may become obstructed if you sleep on your stomach, according to some researchers. In particular if the infant is resting on a soft mattress or with blankets, stuffed toys, or a cushion near their face, stomach-sleeping can promote “rebreathing” (when babies breathe in their own exhaled air). Re-inhaling exhaled air reduces oxygen levels and increases carbon dioxide levels.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome): Risks and Prevention | Pampers

An abnormality in the brain that controls breathing and awakening may be a contributing factor in SIDS deaths in infants. In order to receive more oxygen, a baby’s brain normally makes him wake up and cry if he is inhaling stale air or otherwise not getting enough. Oxygen levels will drop and CO2 levels will rise if this signal is not picked up by the brain.

When the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched in response, it was suggested that all healthy newborns younger than one year old sleep on their backs.

As long as they are under the age of 12 months, babies should be laid on their backs when sleeping. There’s nothing wrong with older infants not sleeping on their backs all night long. If a baby is able to roll from front to back and back to front regularly, they can sleep in any position they like. There is no need to employ positioners or other devices that promise to minimize the risk of SIDS.

Common Concerns

When it comes to children, some parents may be concerned about “flat head syndrome” (positional plagiocephaly). When a baby spends a lot of time on their backs, they can develop a flat patch on the back of their heads. This has been more widespread after the “Back to Sleep” campaign. However, adjusting a baby’s crib position and allowing for more supervised “tummy time” when they are awake are simple ways to alleviate the problem.

Some parents may be concerned about their newborns choking on spit-up or vomit if they are put to sleep on their backs. For healthy newborns and most babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GER), there is no increased risk of choking when they sleep on their backs. Children with certain types of uncommon airway disorders may need to be put to sleep on their stomachs by doctors.

If parents are unsure about the best way to put their baby to sleep, they should consult with their child’s pediatrician.


SIDS can be exacerbated by a combination of physical and sleep environment variables. Children’s characteristics differ from one another in this regard.

Fighting Sudden Infant Death Syndrome one sleeper at a time |

Physical factors

SIDS is connected with a number of physical characteristics, including:

  • Deficiencies in the functioning of the brain. Some babies are born with conditions that increase their risk of SIDS death. Many of these infants lack the maturity of the brain’s part that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.
  • Low weight at birth. When a kid is born early or is part of a multiple birth, his or her brain may not have fully formed, making it more difficult for him or her to govern basic activities like breathing and heart rate.
  • Infection of the lungs. A recent cold may have contributed to breathing difficulties in many SIDS victims.

Sleep environmental factors

When a baby’s medical condition and the materials in his or her crib mix, the risk of SIDS increases. As a starting point, here are some examples:

  • Stomach or side sleeping is the preferred position for most people. Putting a baby in this position to sleep may make it more difficult for him or her to breathe.
  • Comfortable bedding for the night. While lying face down on a soft mattress or waterbed, an infant’s airway can be blocked.
  • Having a bed to sleep in together. Infants who share a bed with parents, siblings, or pets are more likely to suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than those who sleep alone.
  • Overheating. A baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can rise if he or she is kept excessively warm while sleeping.

Risk factors

A baby’s risk for sudden infant death syndrome is increased by a number of factors that have been found by researchers. Included are:

  • Sex. SIDS claims the lives of a boy at a somewhat higher rate.
  • Age. During the first two and a half months of life, infants are at their most vulnerable.
  • Race. Nonwhite infants have a higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for unknown causes.
  • The history of my ancestors. Babies with a family history of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are more likely to succumb to the syndrome themselves.
  • Inhalation of secondhand tobacco smoke. SIDS is more likely to occur in babies whose mothers smoke.
  • Being too early. SIDS is more likely to occur if your infant is born prematurely or at a low birth weight.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): the causes and risks - MadeForMums

Maternal risk factors

Also, during pregnancy, a mother’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) increases, particularly if she:

  • Is under the age of 20.
  • He’s a cigarette smoker, by the way.
  • Drugs or alcohol are frequently consumed by this person.
  • Pregnant woman is receiving poor treatment.

10 Steps to Help Prevent SIDS

SIDS might be a parent’s worst nightmare for those who are aware of it. The syndrome of sudden infant death (SIDS) or “crib death” is a common abbreviation. An infant under the age of 12 months who dies suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep has died mysteriously. SIDS can’t be completely prevented, but there are several things you can take to reduce your baby’s risk. Safe sleep recommendations provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the “Back to Sleep” campaign begun in 1994 have reduced the SIDS rate significantly. At 103 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013, the SIDS death rate was three times higher than in 2018’s figure of 35 deaths per 100,000.

Put a Sleeping Baby on Their Back

When your infant sleeps on his or her stomach or side, the risk of SIDS is substantially higher. It is possible for a baby lying on its side to turn over onto its stomach. Smothering may occur if your baby’s face is pressed against the mattress or sleeping space.

Every time your baby goes to bed, whether it’s for a nap, the night, or just to fall asleep, make sure they’re on their back. Do not leave them in a stroller, car seat or baby swing for an extended period of time while they are sleeping. Lay them out on a flat surface like a bed or table. Tell anyone who is taking care of your infant that they must always be placed on their back to sleep. Grandparents, babysitters, older siblings, and others are all included in this category. It’s possible they believe that just once won’t make a difference. SIDS is more likely to occur if a baby is placed on their stomach to sleep than if they are placed on their back. Don’t worry about your infant choking when they sleep on their back. Even in the most healthy babies, swallowing or coughing up liquids spontaneously is a common occurrence. If you’re worried, talk to your baby’s doctor about having the bed’s head raised.
When your baby is 6 months old and able to turn over in both directions, it is possible that he or she will no longer sleep on their back. It’s fine. Once they can roll over, it’s OK to let them sleep in whatever position they like.

Firm Bed, No Soft Toys or Bedding

Avoid suffocation by placing your infant in a crib or bassinet with a hard mattress or surface. A fitted sheet is all that your baby’s crib requires — don’t clutter it up with extraneous bedding or plush animals like sheepskin or stuffed toys.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can be reached at 800-638-2772 or at for information on the safety of your baby’s mattress or crib.

Serotonin gives insight into sudden infant death syndrome

Don’t Smoke Around Your Baby

Because of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy, you should quit before you get pregnant. When pregnant women smoke, their newborns are three times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Smoking while pregnant is a major cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as is being exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant. You must not allow anyone to smoke around your infant.

Keep Your Sleeping Baby Close, but Not in Your Bed

Having a baby in the same room as mom reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In contrast, it’s harmful for a baby to share a bed with another child or an adult.

When you’re ready to go to bed, return your baby to their cradle, bassinet, or crib if they’ve been in your bed for comforting or breastfeeding. In the event that you fall asleep while breastfeeding, avoid doing so while sitting down in a chair or a couch.

When you’re exhausted or taking medication that affects your sleep, don’t bring your infant to bed with you.

Breastfeed as Long as You Can

Experts aren’t clear why breastfeeding can reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS by up to 50%. SIDS risk can be reduced by breastfeeding, according to some experts. If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid drinking alcohol because it can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS. The basic touch is also useful. For the healthy growth and development of your newborn, skin-to-skin contact is critical.

Immunize Your Baby

Babies who are completely vaccinated, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, have a 50% lower risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than those who are not.

Consider Using a Pacifier to Put Baby to Sleep

Researchers don’t know why giving your kid a pacifier before bed may help avoid SIDS. If you’re using a pacifier, here are some guidelines:

  1. Wait until your kid is at least a month old before using a pacifier if you are nursing. If your infant is introduced to a pacifier too early, he or she may develop a preference for the pacifier’s nipple over your own.
  2. Take the pacifier away from your child when they don’t want to.
  3. Ensure that you remove the pacifier before you put your baby down for the night; do not put it back in their mouth when they wake up.
  4. If the nipple of the pacifier is broken, replace it.
  5. No honey, alcohol, or other substances should be applied to the pacifier.

Keep Your Baby From Overheating

You should outfit your baby in light, loose-fitting sleepwear to prevent overheating and keep the room temperature at a level that is comfortable for an adult in order to reduce the risk of SIDS.

What Causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Put your kid in a “sleep sack” or a “onesie” to keep them warm if you’re worried about them getting cold at night (a wearable blanket). A standard blanket, however, is not recommended because your infant could get tangled in it or pull the blanket over their head.

Steer Clear of Products That Claim to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

You should steer clear of products that claim to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS, as they haven’t been shown safe or effective. There is no evidence to support the use of cardiac monitors or electronic respirators in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Don’t Give Honey to an Infant Under 1 Year Old

Never give honey to a child under the age of one since it can induce botulism. SIDS and botulism may be connected, according to some researchers.

Your baby’s doctor is always available to answer your questions regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), preventive measures for SIDS and the best ways to keep your baby warm, happy and safe at all times.

What Is “Safe to Sleep”?

SIDS deaths have decreased significantly since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended it. In spite of this, it is still the greatest cause of newborn death. Reminding parents and caretakers that infants should be placed on their backs while they sleep is the goal of the “Safe to Sleep” campaign.

In order to lessen the incidence of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths, here are some tips for parents:

  • To ensure a healthy pregnancy, begin prenatal care as soon as possible.
  • If you want to put your baby to sleep, make sure it’s on a firm mattress. Never put your infant on a cushion, waterbed, sheepskin, couch, or chair.
  • Fitted sheets and no extra bedding are all that is needed to protect your mattress. Keep pillows, blankets, and other soft items out of the bedroom.
  • Bumper pads should never be used in a crib. Suffocation and strangulation are possible outcomes of using bumper pads.
  • Practice sharing a room but not a bed. Until the kid reaches the age of one, experts recommend that newborns sleep in their parents’ room, but on a separate surface, such as a bassinet or cot next to the bed.
  • If you can, try to breastfeed. Breastfeeding in any form has been demonstrated to lessen the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Use a pacifier to put your infant to sleep for the first year of his or her life Avoid forcing the pacifier on a child who refuses it. The pacifier does not have to be replaced in the event of a loss when the child is sleeping. Wait until your baby is at least six months old before you breastfeed.
  • Your baby should not overheat while they sleep. Don’t overburden your baby by overdressing him or her. Severe sweating or a warm feeling to the touch are warning indications of overheating.
  • During and after childbirth, do not use cigarettes or other tobacco products. A newborn’s risk of SIDS is increased if his or her mother smoked when she was pregnant or if the baby is exposed to secondhand smoke, and this risk is especially high if the parent who smokes sleeps in the same bed as the baby.
  • Pregnant women and new mothers should avoid the use of alcohol and illegal drugs. Intoxicated or drug-using parents shouldn’t be allowed to sleep with their infant in the same bed.
  • Make sure your baby is vaccinated against all of the diseases that have been linked to them. Babies who obtain their immunizations have a lower risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Grief counseling, support, and referrals are available for parents and families who have lost a child to SIDS.

Rate this post