|Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the "sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the symptoms or illnesses the infant had prior to dying and any other pertinent medical history."
Unfortunately, there is no 100% way to prevent SIDS, but there are steps you can take to reduce your infant's risk of SIDS.
It most commonly occurs between the ages of 1 and 4 months. Fortunately, the incidence of SIDS has decreased dramitically in recent years. This has been thought to be secondary to the Back to Sleep campaign that instructs parents to put their infants to sleep on their backs and not their side or stomachs.
The most important thing that you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS is to put your baby to sleep on his back (sleeping on his side is not as safe, expecially if he can roll over onto his stomach) and never put him down alone on a waterbed, bean bag, or soft blanket that can cover his face and cause choking. Also make sure that daycare personal or baby-sitters also know to put your baby to sleep on his back.
Another risk factor for SIDS may be thermal stress or getting overheated. To avoid this you should provide your infant with a comfortable room temperature that isn't too warm or hot and avoid excessive bedclothes, covering the head and too much bundling.
While bedsharing may not increase the risk of SIDS, it is also not thought to be protective. The AAP has recently come out with a policy statement that does specifically recommend that babies sleep in a 'separate but proximate sleeping environment' such as a nearby crib, cradle, or bassinet. Cosleeping and bedsharing is no longer recommended.
Exposure to second hand smoke is a definite risk factor, and it is probably not enough to just smoke outside the house. Smoking during pregnancy should also be avoided, since that is another risk factor that can raise a baby's risk for SIDS.
Lastly, breastfeeding is thought to be protective against SIDS.
SIDS Internet Resources:
SIDS Recommended Reading List:
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