Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Do You Know What To Do?

November 10, 2008 by  

Important Facts In Reducing The Risk Of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of infant deaths in about 50 of every 100,000 births in the United States.
Normally, this happens when a baby is put in their cribs to sleep and is found dead later.  Even though no one really knows what causes SIDS there are some things you can consider that are a risk factor.  Some risk could be baby being exposed to tobacco smoke, born prematurely, laying baby on their stomach when sleeping, and excess bedding or stuffed animals in their crib.

SIDS is a frightening word to parents of newborns.  There is so little concrete unexplained  knowledge about SIDS, as every case is different.  However, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the chances of your infant dying of SIDS.  Here are some of the ways you can reduce the risk factors of SIDS.

  • One of the first things you can do to help prevent SIDS is good prenatal care.  A low birth weight can often contribute to SIDS.  So mothers who are careful about their prenatal care and nutrition can have a healthier baby.  Avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol while pregnant also reduces the risk of SIDS.  It has also been shown that having two babies in one year can raise the risk of SIDS for the second infant.  Teen mothers have a higher risk of their infant dying of SIDS.
  • Real important that some parents do not think about is sleeping with their baby.  The problem is parents could smother their babies while they are sleeping.
  • Choose a crib with a firm surface.  Having the right bedding for the crib is crucial to reducing the risk of SIDS.  Putting the baby to sleep on the backs,  and using a firm mattress with a tight fitting sheet, is the first step.  Despite everyone loving those cute comforter and bumper pad sets, they are best left out of the crib.  The bumper pad reduces the amount of fresh air circulating around the baby.  Both sleeping on the stomach and the comforter being too close to the face can cause the baby to breathe back in too much carbon dioxide, which is a significant factor in SIDS.
  • On cold nights instead of a blanket use sleepers or baby sacks.  However, if the infant is too warm, that can also contribute to SIDS.  It is important to find the proper balance.
  • Use a pacifier, some studies have shown that pacifiers help reduce the occurrence of SIDS.  Another study noted that using a pacifier could reduce the risk of SIDS by 90%.  The pacifier helps keep the air passage open. It also helps keep securely items away from the infant’s mouth and nose.  This can help prevent suffocation.
  • DO NOT SMOKE AROUND YOUR BABY THEY NEED OXYGEN.  Even though you would think that’s common since it’s done often.  Avoiding second-hand smoke also reduces the risk of SIDS.  Studies by the Surgeon General have shown that, “Infants who die from SIDS tend to have higher concentration of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of codeine (a biological marker for second-hand smoke exposure) than infants who die from other causes.”
  • One last thing that helps reduce the risk of SIDS is breastfeeding, although some experts do not feel it is the breastfeeding itself that reduces the risk of SIDS.  However, there are fewer breastfed babies than formula babies who have died of SIDS.  Breastfed baby’s tend to have a lower rate of respiratory breathing problems and gastrointestinal infections, both of which can contribute to SIDS.

Even though there’s no guarantees or definable cause of SIDS anything you can do to reduce the risks is worth it. Don’t be a victim and don’t wake up one morning and go in to wake your baby and fine yourself coping with a nightmare.  Use your common sense as well as your good health habits.  Make the necessary changes to prevent a possible life of heartache.

For more information and other resources on SIDS visit

American SIDS Institute

AASPP (American Association of SIDS Prevention Physicians)

ASIP (Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Professionals)

CJ Foundation for SIDS

National SIDS/Infant Death Resource Center

If you know of any other ways to help prevent the risk of SIDS please let us know below in our comment section.

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