Every year approximately 3500 babies in the United States die due to sleep-related deaths. These deaths can be attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, entrapment, infection, ingestion, metabolic diseases, cardiac arrhythmias, and trauma.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained and sudden death of an infant between 1 month and 1 year of age. After a complete investigation is performed and the cause of death cannot be determined, the medical examiner or coroner will call the death SIDS.
Most SIDS deaths happen when babies are between 1 to 4 months of age, the highest rates occur in African American, American Indian, and Alaska Native babies, and more males than females die from SIDS.
Risk Factors for SIDS
A mixture of physical and environmental influences can put an infant at a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Although there are numerous factors, they vary from child to child. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are placed on their stomachs are at a much higher risk for SIDS. This is because when a baby is on their stomach, they are more likely to choke due to the esophagus being on top of the trachea.
Additionally, brain defects, low birth weight, respiratory infection, overheating, sharing a bed, sleeping on a soft surface, and exposure to 2nd hand smoke, prematurity, or low birth weight can all be risk factors for SIDS.
What are some ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death?
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep for naps and at night.
- Exclusively breastfeed or offer expressed breastmilk to your baby
- Do not consume alcohol or drugs throughout your pregnancy or after delivering your baby.
- Remember the ABC’s of Safe Sleep
ABC’s of Safe Sleep
The ABC’s of Safe Sleep helps to ensure that your baby is put to sleep safely, minimizing the risk of infant death.
A, Alone – Your baby should sleep alone without parents, siblings, another caregiver, or any objects. You can practice room-sharing but not bed-sharing with your baby.
B, Back – Your baby should be put to sleep on his/her back. Placing your baby to sleep on their side or stomach increases their risk of death.
C, Crib – Your baby should always sleep in a safety-approved crib or bassinet with a firm mattress and only a sheet that fits tightly. Keep in min there should not be any pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and/or bumper pads.
- “About SIDS and Safe Infant Sleep.” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/safesleepbasics/about.
- “Safe Sleep for Your Baby.” SAFE SLEEP FOR YOUR BABY, www.marchofdimes.org/baby/safe-sleep-for-your-baby.aspx.
- Safe Sleep, Every Sleep for Infants, SCDHEC, scdhec.gov/safe-sleep-every-sleep-infants.
Originally published 07/21