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Infant Mortality/SIDS 101

What is Infant Mortality/SIDS?
Infant Mortality/SIDS is the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained by information collected during a thorough investigation. An investigation should include a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history.

Although the overall rate of infant mortality/SIDS in the United States has declined by more than 50% since 1990, rates have declined less among African American and American Indian/Alaska Native infants. Moreover, infant mortality/SIDS is still the third leading cause of infant deaths in the United States and the leading cause of death among infants 28–364 days.

What are risk factors?
The cause of infant mortality/SIDS is unknown. Several factors have been identified that increase an infant’s risk for SIDS:

  1. Tummy (prone) or side sleeping - Infants who are put to sleep on their tummy or side are more likely to die from SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs.
  2. Soft sleep surfaces - Sleeping on a waterbed, couch, sofa, or pillows, or sleeping with stuffed toys has been associated with an increased risk for SIDS.
  3. Loose bedding - Sleeping with pillows or loose bedding such as comforters, quilts, and blankets increases an infants risk for SIDS.
  4. Overheating - Infants who overheat because they are overdressed, have too many blankets on, or are in a room that is too hot are at a higher risk of SIDS.
  5. Smoking - Infants born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are at increased risk of SIDS. Also, infants exposed to smoke at home or at daycare are more likely to die from SIDS.
  6. Bed sharing - Sharing a bed with anyone other than the parents or caregivers and with people who smoke or are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, increases an infant’s risk for SIDS.
  7. Preterm and low birth weight infants - Infants born premature or low birth weight are more likely to die from SIDS.

What can I do to prevent/lower my child’s risk of Infant Mortality/SIDS?
Early and continuous prenatal care helps identify conditions and behavior that can result in low birthweight babies, such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, inadequate weight gain during pregnancy, and repeat pregnancy in six months or less.

Can vaccination cause SIDS?
Current scientific evidence does not support the theories that vaccines have caused SIDS.

For more information about infant mortality/SIDS:

Centers for Disease Control

American Academy of Pediatrics Exit Disclaimer

Last Modified: 07/08/2008 11:43:00 AM
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