Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death

Sudden infant death syndrome also termed as SIDS is denoted when a newborn dies suddenly and its cause is not able to be explained medically, by autopsy, or other detailed investigations. Infants are most prone to suffer from SIDS when they are asleep. Generally, in SIDS an infant is made to sleep and he dies in his sleep without displaying any signs of suffering. SIDS comes third in causes of infant deaths in the United States of America. A diagnosis of SIDS is only given in cases when infant dies of unexplained causes and the death is sudden. In some cases after investigation, the cause of the death is found to be suffocation, neglect or some other cause.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death

Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death

Since the cause of SIDS is unknown, there are several risk factors for it. Some of it are listed below. SIDS is said to be caused when an infant who is biologically vulnerable is subjected to expose of an external trigger. Some of the other risk factors are:

  • Smoking: The risk of SIDS is high at residences where there are smokers in the house which exposes the infants to nicotine. Also, the instances of SIDS are higher in infants whose mothers have smoked during their pregnancy.
  • Sleep: The placement of an infant when asleep is also an important factor. The infant should not be made to lie on his stomach when asleep, especially during one two to three months of age. The room temperature of the baby should be controlled that is it should not be too high or too low. Sharing the bed in which the baby sleeps with smokers and those who use alcohol also increases the risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended even for nonalcoholic and nonsmoking parents they can share the room with the baby but they should not share the same bed.
  • Pregnancy: The risk of SIDS is more if the age of mother at the time of childbirth is very less and the risk decreases with age so age plays an important role. Infants at greatest risk for SIDS are those that are born from mothers in their teenage years.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Genetics plays an important role in SIDS too. It is noted that SIDS affects males more than females.
  • Developmental Age: SIDS generally strikes in infants under one year of age. The age of maximal risk is between 2 and f4 months of age when the ability of the infant to get up from sleep is still not fully developed. Hence it is also called as the critical developmental age.
  • Other factors: Other factors that increase the risk for SIDS are infections like Staph. Aureus and E. Coli.

Diagnosis of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death

Some Conditions That Mimic Or Can Be Confused With Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death Include:

  • Medium-chain Acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency
  • Infant botulism
  • Prolonged QT syndrome
  • H. Pylori infection
  • Different forms of child abuse.

Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death

To prevent SIDS from happening different measures can be undertaken such as maintaining appropriate sleep position of the baby, regular breastfeeding of the baby, minimal use of soft beds, appropriate immunizations.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: June 25, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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