What is SIDS?

SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the unexplained death of an otherwise healthy infant.  Although we do not know what causes SIDS, several risk factors have been identified. 

We know boys are at higher risk, as well as infants between 2-3 months of age.  Having a sibling or cousin who has died of SIDS is also increases the risk.  In addition, several risk factors have been identified with pregnant mothers such as smoking, drugs and alcohol and age under 20.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk.

  • Place your baby on his or her back to sleep, even during naps.
  • DO NOT allow infants to sleep in adult beds, swings or car seats.
  • Although having the crib in the parent room may help reduce the risk, monitors and alarms do not help.
  • Make sure the baby’s crib has a firm mattress and is free of bumpers, pillows, fluffy blankets and stuffed animals.  If you need warmth, use thicker jammies or an approved sleep sack. Sleep positioners are not recommended.
  • Pacifiers may help reduce the risk, but make sure there are no “keepers” attached to it.  
  • Breast feeding has been shown to be helpful in reducing risk.
  • DO NOT SMOKE during pregnancy or after your child is born. Make sure the house and cars are smoke free as well.

    If you have any questions, call your pediatrician or visit www.healthychildren.org.

By Kenneth Branstetter, MD, pediatrician, ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Neenah.