Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known by the acronym SIDS, is a tragedy, and a mystery. Despite years of research, its exact causes remain unknown.
It is defined as the sudden death of an infant, younger than a year old, that can’t be explained after a thorough medical investigation.
In California, SIDS is the second-leading cause of death for children between 28 days and a year old. However, parents can take steps to reduce the risks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has these recommendations:
• Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care. They also should avoid tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs both during pregnancy and after the birth.
• Don’t let anyone smoke in an infant’s presence.
• When it’s time to sleep, lay your baby on a firm surface on his back, not his stomach.
• Share a room, but not a bed, with your infant, and keep all soft objects out of the baby’s sleeping area.
• Don’t let your baby get overheated while sleeping.
Other effective steps include breastfeeding, if possible; getting all recommended immunizations for your baby, and having regular “well baby” check-ups.
We don’t yet have a way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but these steps have greatly decreased the number of deaths. If you have questions, ask your doctor for advice.