How to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) are both scary terms for parents. Both conditions are the leading causes of death in infants aged one month to one year. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can reduce the risk of injury or death. Keep reading to learn some simple steps you can take to keep your infant safe.
What is SIDS?SIDS is defined as the sudden, unexplained death of an infant less than one year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because it often occurs when an infant is sleeping in a crib. While the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, there are a number of factors that may contribute to the risk of SIDS, including:
- Babies who are born at a low weight or who are born prematurely
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Sleeping on their stomach or side
- Use of soft bedding, such as blankets and pillows, in a baby's sleep area
What is SUDI?
SUDI is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of any infant or child less than one year of age. SUDI includes deaths from SIDS, as well as other causes, such as suffocation, entrapment, and infection.
How common is SIDS?
SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants aged one month to one year, with a rate of about 0.26 deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no warning signs for SIDS or SUDI. These conditions can happen to any infant, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
How can I reduce the risk of SIDS and SUDI?There are a number of ways you can reduce the risk of SIDS and SUDI. The best measure of preventative care is to create a safe sleep environment for your infant. To ensure your baby's sleep environment is safe:
- Make sure your baby always sleeps on his or her back. This is the safest position for sleeping, as it decreases the risk of SIDS.
- Choose a firm and flat sleep surface for your child when they sleep. This could be a crib, bassinet, or portable crib that meets current safety standards. Don't use a car seat, stroller, swing, baby carrier, or similar items as your child's regular sleeping space.
- Don't use soft bedding—such as blankets and pillows—in your baby's sleep area. This can increase the risk of SIDS.
- Keep your baby's crib free of toys and other items that could pose a choking hazard.
- Make sure your baby's room is dark and cool. Overheating can increase the risk of SIDS.
- Consider using a fan in your baby's room to keep the air circulating.
- Don't smoke around your baby. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
Other Tips for Reducing SIDS and SUDI
In addition to creating a safe sleep environment, here are a few other tips to consider:
Breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. Studies have shown that for a number of SIDS deaths, the baby has actually also had a "minor illness" in the days preceding death. Infants' immune systems are still developing, and breast milk aids in the production of immunoglobulins to fight infections including RSV, which can promote inflammation and cause SIDS.
Vaccinate your baby according to the recommended schedule.
Vaccinations can help protect your baby from a number of potentially deadly illnesses, such as pertussis and influenza.
Avoid letting your baby get too hot.
Remove excess clothing or blankets if your baby seems warm.
Use a pacifier
Giving your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime can help reduce the risk of SIDS.