Tips to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

October is National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month, an annual public health campaign to educate the public about the horrifying syndrome more commonly known by its acronym, SIDS. According to the Mayo Clinic, SIDS is “the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old.”

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that in 2017 “there were 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States.” The Mayo Clinic explains that even though the cause of SIDS is truly unknown, there are factors that may increase a baby’s risk of dying suddenly. These risk factors are:

  • Male
  • Between 2 to 4 months old.
  • Non-White infants.
  • A family history of siblings or cousins who have died from SIDS.
  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Born premature.
  • Maternal factors such as a mother under the age of 20, who smokes, uses drugs or alcohol or who has had inadequate prenatal care.

The Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips to reduce SIDS risk:

  • Back to sleep – Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep rather than on their stomachs or on their sides.
  • Keep the crib as bare as possible – Avoid extra fluffy padding, pillows, and stuffed toys which can suffocate babies.
  • Don’t overheat your baby – Avoid extra covers to wrap your baby. Try a sleep sack or sleep clothing. Don’t cover your baby’s head to go to sleep.
  • Have your baby sleep in your room – Have your baby sleep in your room alone a crib or bassinet for the first six months to a year. Adult beds are unsafe for infants.
  • Breast feed your baby, if possible – Breastfeeding for at least six months lowers the risk of SIDS.
  • Offer a Pacifier– A pacifier at naptime without the string may reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Immunize your baby -Some evidence exists that SIDS may be reduced by immunizations.

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