Advice and Information Baby Health Sleep — 29 January 2013
The Prevention of S.I.D.S. in Babies

Just the words ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ evokes fear in parents. Fortunately more and more is being learned about prevention of this terrible tragedy.

SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is, as the name implies, the sudden and unexpected death of an infant for no known cause. It’s the largest killer of babies in the first year of life. Although the exact cause of SIDS is still unknown, research is pointing more and more to certain factors which can put our babies at risk.

Research shows a correlation between SIDS and babies who are laid down to sleep on their stomachs.  Because of this pediatrician Dr. John Kattwinkel recommends that “if there is no other reason to do otherwise, if the baby is healthy, born at term and not a baby who spits up a great deal or has abnormalities of the airway, then the parents ought to place their babies down to sleep on their side or on their back rather than on their stomach.”

Dr. Kattwinkel also stresses that parents should avoid laying their babies on soft pillows, lambskins and soft beds. And he adds that although SIDS is often unavoidable there are things that parents can do to decrease the risks. “We used to think that SIDS was a sporadic problem which couldn’t be avoided and could hit anyone”, explains Kattwinkel. “That’s still true to an extent, but there are ways to decrease the risk. Babies of mothers who don’t smoke, don’t use drugs, and who do breast feed and place their babies to sleep on their backs are at a low risk of having SIDS.”

It’s also recommended that babies sleep alone, rather than with adults, in order to avoid the child becoming trapped between a mattress and headboard, or under pillows, and then suffocating.  Don’t bundle your baby with too many blankets as you want to avoid overheating.  And once your child has settled into breast-feeding, usually after a month of age, offer a pacifier which is now thought to reduce the risk of SIDS.

One in 500 babies die each years from SIDS, with the majority of those deaths occurring in infants between two and four months of age. While the cause of SIDS is still mysterious, the more we know, the more ways we have to prevent this terrible tragedy from occurring.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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