By definition, SIDS is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age 1 in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death. There are no symptoms, and as the name implies, it occurs suddenly. Even up to the present time, the cause of SIDS is still not identified. There are many theories about it, but the general idea is that there is no single factor that contributes to SIDS.
This phenomenon usually occurs between the ages of 1 month to 1 year old, with the highest incidence within the 2-4 months age group.
While the cause is unknown, there have been some risk factors identified with SIDS: • smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy • poor prenatal care • prematurity or low birth-weight • mothers younger than 20 • tobacco smoke exposure following birth • overheating from excessive sleepwear and bedding • stomach sleeping
The American Academy of Pediatrics has reviewed much of the research regarding SIDS and has come up with the following guidelines for parents, caregivers and medical practitioners that may help in the prevention of this syndrome:
“Back to sleep.” Always put a baby to sleep on his back. (This includes naps.) DO NOT put a baby to sleep on its stomach. Side sleeping is unstable and should also be avoided. Allowing the baby to roll around on its tummy while awake can prevent a flat spot (due to sleeping in one position) from forming on the back of the head.