What Is SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation. This investigation includes performing a complete autopsy, examining the death scene, and reviewing the clinical history.
When a baby dies, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, and communities try to find out why. They ask questions, examine the baby, gather information, and run tests. If they can’t find a cause for the death, and if the baby was younger than 1 year old, the medical examiner or coroner will call the death SIDS.
If there is still some uncertainty as to the cause after it is determined to be fully unexplained, then the medical examiner or corner might leave the cause of death as “unknown”.
Known Risk Factors
Research shows that several factors put babies at higher risk for SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.
Babies are at higher risk for SIDS if they:
- Sleep on their stomachs
- Sleep on soft surfaces, such as an adult mattress, couch, or chair or under soft coverings
- Sleep on or under soft or loose bedding
- Get too hot during sleep
- Are exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb or in their environment, such as at home, in the car, in the bedroom, or other areas
- Sleep in an adult bed with parents, other children, or pets; this situation is especially dangerous if:
- The adult smokes, has recently had alcohol, or is tired.
- The baby is covered by a blanket or quilt.
- The baby sleeps with more than one bed-sharer.
- The baby is younger than 11 to 14 weeks of age.
What Does a Safe Sleep Environment Look Like?
For more information, please visit: www.nichd.nih.gov