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Sudden unexplained death of a child of less than one year of age / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden unexplained death of a child of less than one year of age. Diagnosis requires that the death remain unexplained even after a thorough autopsy and detailed death scene investigation.[2] SIDS usually occurs during sleep.[3] Typically death occurs between the hours of midnight and 9:00 a.m.[4] There is usually no noise or evidence of struggle.[5] SIDS remains the leading cause of infant mortality in Western countries, contributing to half of all post-neonatal deaths.[6]

Quick facts: Sudden infant death syndrome, Other names, Sp...
Sudden infant death syndrome
Other names
  • Cot death
  • crib death
Safe to Sleep logo
The Safe to Sleep campaign encourages having infants sleep on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Usual onsetOne to four months in age[1]
Risk factors
Diagnostic method
Differential diagnosis
Frequency1 in 1,000–10,000

The exact cause of SIDS is unknown.[7] The requirement of a combination of factors including a specific underlying susceptibility, a specific time in development, and an environmental stressor has been proposed.[3][7] These environmental stressors may include sleeping on the stomach or side, overheating, and exposure to tobacco smoke.[7] Accidental suffocation from bed sharing (also known as co-sleeping) or soft objects may also play a role.[3][8] Another risk factor is being born before 39 weeks of gestation.[1] SIDS makes up about 80% of sudden and unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs).[3] The other 20% of cases are often caused by infections, genetic disorders, and heart problems.[3] While child abuse in the form of intentional suffocation may be misdiagnosed as SIDS, this is believed to make up less than 5% of sudden death cases.[3]

The most effective method of reducing the risk of SIDS is putting a child less than one year old on their back to sleep.[1] Other measures include a firm mattress separate from but close to caregivers, no loose bedding, a relatively cool sleeping environment, using a pacifier, and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke.[9] Breastfeeding and immunization may also be preventive.[9][10] Measures not shown to be useful include positioning devices and baby monitors.[9][10] Evidence is not sufficient for the use of fans.[9] Grief support for families affected by SIDS is important, as the death of the infant is sudden, without witnesses, and often associated with an investigation.[3]

Rates of SIDS vary nearly tenfold in developed countries from one in a thousand to one in ten thousand.[3][11] Globally, it resulted in about 19,200 deaths in 2015, down from 22,000 deaths in 1990.[12] SIDS was the third leading cause of death in children less than one year old in the United States in 2011.[13] It is the most common cause of death between one month and one year of age.[1] About 90% of cases happen before six months of age, with it being most frequent between two months and four months of age.[3][1] It is more common in boys than girls.[1] Rates of SIDS have decreased in areas with "safe sleep" campaigns by up to 80%.[11]

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