August 12, 2022
What Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Sudden infant death syndrome is defined as the sudden and unexpected death of a child less than one year of age. In this case, an autopsy will fail to reveal an explainable cause of death. It is a death very feared by parents since it has no symptoms, notices or has a clear explanation.

But although the cause of the sudden death of the infant is unknown, at present, many doctors and researchers believe that there are many factors involved, which we will discuss as we go further.

For example, the inability of the baby to wake up, as well as the inability of the baby’s body to detect accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood, or an episode of prolonged apnea, bradycardia or hypotension, arrhythmias or external situations that can lead to asphyxiation, that is, that there is no response to a life-threatening stimulus during sleep.

This happens especially between two and four months when the risk of sudden infant death is highest. The sudden infant death syndrome –SIDS, is infrequent during the first month of life, after four months it decreases and after 12 months it is considered that the risk has practically disappeared. Then, it is referred to as the sudden death of the child, and no more sudden infant death syndrome.

It is also known that this sudden infant death syndrome happens more to boys than girls and more cases occur in winter. However, there is no warning of any kind: the baby normally sleeps and death occurs during sleep.

The Definition

Sudden infant death syndrome is the sudden death of a child under one year of age, which occurs apparently during sleep and remains unexplained after conducting a thorough postmortem investigation, which includes the practice of autopsy, the examination of the place of death and review of the medical history.

Factors Related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

There are some factors that could be involved in the increased risk of sudden infant death, although the significance of each is unknown and the causes are still being investigated. These are some of the factors:

  • Sleeping on your stomach: Since parents were advised to put their babies to sleep on their backs or on their sides, cases of sudden infant death syndrome have decreased worldwide. Thus, it is assumed that putting your baby to sleep on his or her stomach might increase the risk of suffering from sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke while in the womb or after birth: It is estimated that the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in smoking mothers during pregnancy is three times higher than that of non-smokers. This could explain the role of the presence of carbon dioxide in the blood in relation to the problem.
  • Mothers who smoke or consume psychoactive substances (alcohol, drugs etc…) that affect the central nervous system.

So, in summary, the major risk factors for SIDS are prone position face down, maternal smoking, head covered, apneas, hyperthermia.

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Furthermore, according to the United States Medical Library, the following points may also be related to the sudden death of the infant:

  • Multiple births (being a twin, triplet, etc.).
  • Premature births
  • Having a brother or sister who suffered from SIDS.
  • Born of a teenage mother.
  • Short time intervals between pregnancies.
  • Late prenatal care or absence of it.
  • Living in conditions of poverty.
  • Sleeping in the same bed with your parents
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How To Reduce The Risk Of Sudden Infant Death

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome:


Always put the baby to sleep on his back (even during naps). Do not put a baby to sleep on his stomach during the first year of life. However, if your baby has turned and turned on its side or upside down on its own, you can leave it in that position if it can already turn from a face down to face up and vice versa. If your baby falls asleep in a car safety seat, a walker, a swing, a baby carrier or a porpoise, you should transfer your baby to a firm surface as soon as possible.


Put babies to sleep on a firm surface such as a crib, cot, bassinet, strollers, etc…. This equipment must comply with current safety standards, not the old products and of course not use broken defective or incomplete cribs.


Cover the firm mattress with a fitted sheet. Do not place blankets or pillows between the mattress and the fitted sheet, and never put the baby to sleep in a chair, a water bed, a cushion, a sheepskin blanket or a sofa; it is considered a dangerous place for a baby to sleep.


Keep soft objects, loose bedding or any other object that may increase the risk that the baby will be trapped, suffocated or strangulated out of the cradle. Pillows, bedspreads, comforters, leather blankets, cushions, and stuffed toys can make your baby suffocate. After twelve months of life, these objects pose a low risk for healthy babies, although there are no conclusive studies in this regard.

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It is recommended to put the baby to sleep in the same room where the parents sleep, but not in the same bed. You have to keep the crib or bassinet near the bed so that you can reach the baby easily; to observe or breastfeed your baby.


Keep the baby away from smokers and places where people smoke. Keep the car and home smoke-free, and ensure that there is also no smoking near the baby, even if it is outdoors.

In general, products like positioners, special mattresses and special sleeping surfaces, that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS should not be used since they have not been shown to reduce the risk. In addition, some babies have suffocated while using these products.

We hope that with this review and the advice offered will be useful and you will spend the most peaceful and safe family nights.

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