Login

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Crib Death)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome refers to the phenomenon of unexpected and unexplained "sudden death" of a previously healthy infant, which is not attributable to any justifiable cause. Although many risk factors have been identified for SIDS in recent years, the exact etiology of this tragic occurrence remains unclear. It seems probable, however, that a combination of both environmental and physiological factors may be responsible. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants less than one year of age. Premature infants are affected twice as frequently by SIDS as full-term infants- as are African American infants as well. Native American infants carry the highest risk of any ethnic group, at three times the occurrence rate of white infants.

Additional risk factors for SIDS include: less than six months of age; recent respiratory infection; prone sleeping position (on tummy); sleep areas containing soft, fluffy bedding and/or toys; male gender; prenatal maternal smoking; and environmental cigarette smoke after birth. Maternal cigarette smoking before delivery increases infant's risk of SIDS by three-fold. Smoking in the infant's environment doubles the chance of a SIDS death.

Preventive measures include: educating caregivers to place the infant in a back-lying sleep position only; avoidance of cigarette smoking before delivery; providing the infant with a smoke-free living environment; keeping cribs/sleeping areas free from soft bedding or toys; encouraging breast-feeding whenever possible; and not allowing the infant to become overheated.

Bernbraum, J.C. & Batshaw, M.L.(1997). Born too soon, born too small. In M.L. Bradshaw (Ed.), Children with disabilities (pp. 126). Baltimore, Maryland: Paul Brookes Publishing.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Fact Sheet: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, retrieved on 12/07/04 from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/womenshealth/research/pregbirth/sids.cfm

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Safe Sleep for Your Baby: Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, retrieved on 12/07/04 from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/