Safe Sleeping Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is identified when the death of a healthy infant occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and medical and forensic investigation findings (including an autopsy) are inconclusive. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old, and approximately 1,500 infants died of SIDS in 2013 (CDC, 2015). Because SIDS is diagnosed when no other cause of death can be determined, possible causes of SIDS are regularly researched. One leading hypothesis suggests that infants who die from SIDS have abnormalities in the area of the brainstem responsible for regulating breathing.71 This is a very important topic for early childhood educators as one study found that while data suggests that only 7% of incidents of SIDS should occur while children are in child care, 20.4% actually did.
Risk Factors for SIDS
Babies are at higher risk for SIDS if they:
Sleep on their stomachs
Sleep on soft surfaces, such as an adult mattress, couch, or chair or under soft coverings
Sleep on or under soft or loose bedding
Get too hot during sleep
Are exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb or in their environment, such as at home,
in the car, in the bedroom, or other areas
Sleep in an adult bed with parents/caregivers, other children, or pets; this situation is
especially dangerous if:
o The adult smokes, has recently had alcohol, or is tired.
o The baby is covered by a blanket or quilt.
o The baby sleeps with more than one bed-sharer.
o The baby is younger than 11 to 14 weeks of age.
Important Facts About SIDS
SIDS happens in families of all social, economic and ethnic groups.
Most SIDS deaths occur between one and four months of age.
SIDS occurs in boys more than girls.
The death is sudden and unexpected, often occurring during sleep. In most cases, the
baby seems healthy.
Although it is not known exactly what causes SIDS, researchers know that it is not
caused by suffocation, choking, spitting up, vomiting, or immunizations.
SIDS is not contagious.