Sleep Disorders Children Sids

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, causes the unexplained death of infants under the age of one year. In cases of SIDS, no obvious cause of death is found, and noticeable preceding symptoms are not evident. Almost all cases of sudden infant death syndrome occur during sleep.

SIDS Risks and Statistics

Since 1992, pediatricians have recommended that babies sleep on their backs or sides, and not their stomachs. By 1996, incidence rates for sudden infant death syndrome dropped by 38 percent, according to the National Institute of Health (1998). Why sleeping position affects SIDS risk is not entirely clear.

Most SIDS babies die between the ages of two and four months. Boys are more susceptible to SIDS than girls, and incidence rates appear to rise during the winter months. Babies of Native American and African descent have a higher SIDS risk than Caucasians.

SIDS Causes

While the exact causes of SIDS are not clear, doctors believe several factors may be involved. Some babies may have particular vulnerability to SIDS because of their heart function, breathing patterns, or brain and characteristics. When combined with other factors, such as environmental triggers, SIDS may result. Babies who were born premature or recently had an upper respiratory infection may also be at increased risk of SIDS.

Stomach sleeping is another SIDS risk factor, and doctors now recommend that all babies sleep on their backs. Soft crib bedding may also be related to SIDS risk, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that babies sleep on a firm, tight-fitting mattress, and that soft crib bedding be avoided.

Secondhand smoke and smoking during pregnancy increase the chances of sudden infant death syndrome, although this exact relationship is unclear. If a mother uses drugs like heroin or cocaine during pregnancy, her baby may also face an increased SIDS risk.

Co-Sleeping and SIDS Babies

Bed sharing — when an infant sleeps with his parents in their bed — is on the increase in the United States. The relationship between co-sleeping and SIDS is not clear. Advocates suggest that the practice may reduce SIDS risk, because parents and babies may wake up more frequently during the night. Others argue that sleeping in an adult bed puts the baby at increased risk of SIDS and other dangers.

Other SIDS risk factors include:

  • A sibling who had SIDS
  • Inadequate prenatal care
  • Multiple births
  • Poverty
  • Premature birth
  • Short time frames between pregnancies
  • The age of the mother (babies of teenagers are more likely to die of SIDS than those that have older mothers).

Preventing SIDS Babies

Babies should sleep on their backs, not on their stomachs. If an infant has GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), consult the child’s pediatrician on appropriate sleeping positions. Other tips for keeping your baby safe include:

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy, and keep babies away from secondhand smoke.
  • Don’t let your chid’s bedroom get too warm. Warm temperatures can cause deep sleep, which may make it harder for the baby to wake up.
  • Use a firm mattress that fits tightly into the crib. Avoid pillows, comforters and plush toys. Never put the child to sleep on a pillow or other soft surface.


American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute. (2009). What is SIDS? Retrieved August 26, 2010, from

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Retrieved September 15, 2010, from

National Institutes of Health. (1998). SIDS rate drops as more babies are placed to sleep on their backs or sides. Retrieved September 15, 2010, from

The Nemours Foundation. (n.d.). Co-sleeping and your baby. Retrieved September 17, 2010 from

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (n.d.). Safety tips for sleeping babies. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from