Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is most likely to happen during the first three months of a baby’s life where the baby dies for no apparent reason.

What is SIDS?

It is the unexpected sudden death of an infant during sleep which is also known as ‘Crib Death’ or ‘Cot Death.’ It occurs anywhere between 0.5 to 1 infant per 1000 live births and one infant for every million population in India due to lack of awareness and shoddy reporting. They are more common in babies with the age group of 2-4 months but can happen anytime during infancy.

How common is SIDS?

They are rare, and with growing awareness of correct sleeping positions, they are reducing worldwide.


  • Increased stress of even minor infections
  • Slow heart rate
  • Irregular sleep-wake cycles
  • Immaturity in the breathing patterns

Risk factors

  • Family history: Babies with a family history may die because of SIDS
  • Sex: Boys die more as compared to girl infants
  • Age: Babies are more likely to develop this condition between the 2nd and 4th month after birth.
  • Secondhand smoke: Infants living around smokers have this syndrome
  • Being premature: Premature birth with low birth weight can cause such a situation
  • Race: Non-white infants develop this syndrome more.

Maternal Risk Factors Include

The chances of SIDS increases if the mother:

  • Smokes
  • Is below 20 years
  • Drinks alcohol or does drugs
  • Has an inadequate prenatal care

When does it occur?

They usually occur between midnight and 9 a.m when the baby is sleeping.

Tobacco Smoke and SUDI

If either parent smokes during pregnancy, it increases the risk of SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome) in the babies. Avoid smoking before you become pregnant and save your child from such disorder.


Tests for SIDS

  • Postmortem laboratory tests: Done to examine the causes of death which are generally not revealing.
  • An autopsy: It provides clues to the cause of the death if the reason was the sudden unexpected death

Along with this, interviewing the parents, other caregivers, and family members, collecting items from the death scene and evaluating that information are all a part of the SIDS tests.

Reducing the risk of SIDS

  • Proper positioning of the baby in the crib: A newborn finds trouble in rolling over until six months from the birth which can increase the risk of suffocation if placed elsewhere. Its mandatory to set your baby on their back so that their tummy may not suffocate.
  • Keep your surrounding environment clean: Do not use perfume products or smoke near your baby as they can create serious health issues for your newborn.
  • Breastfeeding: It is helpful for your baby lowering the risk of SIDS by 60 percent. Breastmilk contains antibodies that protect the baby from several infections affecting the respiratory system.
  • Keeping the crib uncluttered: Allow your baby to sleep in a peaceful and clear sleeping area and give them the space to roll on which they usually develop after six months.
  • Pacifier: If the infant sucks on a pacifier without a string or a strap during bedtime, the risks associated with SIDS will decrease considerably. In the case of a breastfeeding baby, do not offer it till he/she is 3-4 weeks old. However, if the baby doesn’t like the pacifier, avoid forcing it. Also, if it does pop out of the baby’s mouth while sleeping, do not place it back in.
  • Avoid overdressing: Overdressing may cause overheat resulting in irritation to the baby and hence increasing the risk of SIDS.

Can a Breathing Monitor or other device prevent SIDS?

A breathing monitor is like a sound alarm which rings when the baby stops breathing for a certain period. Some parents find this method easy to know their baby’s condition although most doctors do not recommend it for premature babies or even healthy ones too.


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