Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. Because many SIDS babies are found in their cribs, some people call SIDS “crib death.”

New research shows that many babies who have died from SIDS had a disorder that affected how their bodies responded to a brain chemical called serotonin. In an infant brain with serotonin problems, the brain cells that tell the body messages like “turn over because I’m not getting enough oxygen” or “wake up because I’m overheating” simply might not get through.

Safe sleeping for infants can help reduce the risk of SIDS. Remember to always put healthy babies on their backs to sleep. Always keep their cribs free of any toys, pillows, stuffed animals, and comforters. Avoid overheating the baby or the room the baby sleeps in.

Is SIDS a problem?

Yes. Babies placed on their stomachs to sleep are much more likely to die of SIDS than babies who are placed on their backs instead. African American babies are two times more likely to die of SIDS than caucasian babies, and SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies in the United States after one month of age. Most SIDS deaths happen in babies who are between two and four months old, and historically more babies have died of SIDS during the colder months of the year.

How to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • When you put the baby down to sleep, ALWAYS put the baby on their back, even for short naps!
  • Babies should be placed on a firm mattress in a crib or bassinet. Soft mattresses, sofas, cushions, waterbeds, sheepskins, or other soft surfaces can increase the risk of SIDS.
  • Keep their crib free of soft, fluffy, and loose bedding and toys, pillows, and other soft items. Make sure the baby’s face and head stay uncovered during sleep by keeping blankets and other coverings away from the baby’s mouth and nose.
  • Don’t let the baby get too warm during sleep. The baby’s room should be at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult, around 70 degrees. Too many layers of clothing and blankets can overheat your baby!
  • Make sure that everyone who cares for your baby knows to place the baby on their back to sleep. Talk to your childcare providers, grandparents, aunts, cousins, babysitters, and all other caregivers about SIDS risks. Show them the appropriate way to put your baby to sleep for naps and nighttime!
  • Don’t smoke, and don’t let anyone else smoke around the baby. Do NOT keep the baby in the same house or car with someone who is smoking or vaping.
  • Breastfeed your baby whenever possible. Breast milk can help prevent infections that make it hard for the baby to breathe. Breast-fed babies have a lower SIDS rate than formula-fed babies do.

About Us

The Forsyth County Infant Mortality Reduction Coalition is a community partnership housed within the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.

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799 North Highland Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

(336) 703-3260
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