Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Program

In the United States, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) remains the leading cause of death in infants between the ages of one month and one year. SIDS happens in families of all social, economic, and ethnic groups.

SIDS most often strikes infants between two and four months of age. We know that SIDS is not caused by suffocation or immunizations and is not contagious or hereditary. Although there is a great deal of research underway, the cause(s) of SIDS still remains unknown.

It is important to remember there is no way to prevent SIDS. We do know that babies sleep safer when placed on a firm surface on their back. Since the early 1990s, when parents and other caregivers began placing babies on their backs to sleep (Back to Sleep Campaign), the number of SIDS deaths have dropped by over 50%.

Now we know there are ways to further lower a baby’s risk of SIDS based on recent research studies and the 2005 recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Preventing SIDS

Here are ten ways that parents and others who care for a baby can reduce the risk of SIDS:
  • Always place a baby on his or her back for naps and at night
  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS
  • Do not allow smoking around a baby
  • Do not let a baby overheat during sleep
  • Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS
  • Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of a baby's sleep area
  • Keep the baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep
  • Place a baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet
  • Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on a baby's head by placing a baby on their stomach when he/she is awake and someone is watching
  • Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing an infant down to sleep. Do not force the baby to take it. When a baby breast-feeds, wait until he or she is one month old or until after breast-feeding has been established
For further information about SIDS preventions, please call 209-533-7438 or 209-533-7434.