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  health > story page AIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

SIDS: Reducing the risk

May 21, 1999
Web posted at: 11:17 AM EDT (1517 GMT)

In this story:

What is SIDS?


By Michele Bloomquist

(WebMD) -- Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is among the greatest fears of parents with newborns. SIDS is the leading cause of death in children 1 month to 1 year old. In the United States, 5,000 to 6,000 infant deaths are attributed to SIDS each year.

Although doctors still don't know what causes SIDS, the number of cases in the United States has dropped by nearly 43 percent since 1992, when the National Institutes of Health initiated the "Back to Sleep" public-awareness campaign and provided guidelines for reducing the risk.

What is SIDS?

According to the American SIDS Institute, SIDS is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant, whose death remains unexplained after an autopsy, investigation of the scene and circumstances of the death, and exploration of the medical history of the infant and family. SIDS is a classification that describes an infant whose death cannot otherwise be explained. It is not a disease, nor can it be a diagnosis for a living baby.

Parents who want to reduce the risk of losing a child to SIDS can turn to the revised recommendations released in April, 1999, by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development:

  • Always have your baby sleep on his or her back unless your doctor instructs you otherwise for medical reasons. Remember the phrase "Back to Sleep."
  • Don't put objects made of soft materials (such as stuffed toys, pillows or comforters) in the crib with the baby at night or at naptime.
  • Keep soft things such as toys, blankets and pillows away from the baby's face and head while he or she is sleeping.
  • Do not put a baby under 12 months old to bed on top of or covered by soft blankets, mattresses, pillows or toys.
  • Tuck in blankets and sheets firmly at the baby's feet, and cover the baby only up to the chest.
  • Don't put the baby to sleep on soft surfaces such as a couch, waterbed, pillow or other surface that can conform to the infant's face.
  • Have the baby wear a sleeper to bed to eliminate the need for heavy blankets in the crib. The baby will stay warm without lots of blankets.
  • Don't smoke near the infant. Compared with babies in a smoke-free environment, those exposed to smoke are at an increased risk of developing colds and upper respiratory illnesses, as well as SIDS.
  • If the baby seems sick, take him or her to the doctor right away.
  • Take care of the baby even during pregnancy by having regular prenatal checkups, eating well and not smoking.
  • Copyright 1999 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
    Back to Sleep
    SIDS Rate Drops as More Babies Are Placed to Sleep on Their Backs or Sides

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