Risk Factors for SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is unpredictable by nature, striking seemingly-healthy babies, usually between two and six months old, while they sleep. SIDS cases are not distributed evenly over race and gender lines, however, and there are some identified risk factors for infant death:

Brain development abnormalities. It is thought that some babies are born without full control of breathing and arousal from sleep, which makes them more susceptible to SIDS.

Low birth weight. Premature births, and multiple births, make it more likely that a child’s brain will not be fully developed, increasing the likelihood of SIDS death.

Prior respiratory infections. SIDS is often related to breathing difficulties, which can be the result of a recent cold or infection.

Gender. Male infants are twice as likely to die of SIDS than female babies.

Age. SIDS cases are most prevalent between the second and third months of an infant’s life.

Race. Although the causes aren’t well understood, African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Eskimo infants are more likely to die from SIDS.

Family history of SIDS. In families where one baby has previously died from SIDS (a sibling or cousin), SIDS deaths appear to be more likely.

Maternal factors. SIDS is more prevalent when the mother is under the age of 20, has smoked cigarettes during pregnancy, used drugs or alcohol, or hasn’t had adequate prenatal care.

There is no cure for SIDS, and the exact causes have yet to be identified. We have resources available to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for parents and guardians.