Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Also known as crib death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the abrupt, mysterious and unexplained death of a child under one year. While most sudden deaths are explained by post-modem examinations results, those that go unexplained even after a complete medical analysis are labelled “sudden death infant death syndrome.” Although SIDS is rare, it is still a major risk to infants. In 2018, SIDS was ranked the third leading cause of infant mortality, causing approximately 2500 infant deaths each year. The disease is dabbed “crib death” since most of these deaths occur in cribs when babies are sleeping.

What Causes SIDS

The cause of SIDS is unknown. However, studies and researches suspect that a combination of factors are responsible for these mysterious deaths. First, it is believed that children who die from SIDS have been found to have complications with part of their brain responsible for controlling breathing during sleep. Researchers are also convinced that there a certain genes that interact to increase the risk for SIDS. Also, several studies have established a relationship between SIDS and heart complications. Besides, a significant percentage of infants who die from SIDS have been found to have respiratory infections during the period of death. Death from SIDS also tends to rise during the cold seasons when respiratory infections are high. Other factors that increase a child’s risk for SIDS are, lack of prenatal care, premature birth, sleeping your baby on the stomach, and having multiple babies.

Risk Factors

Since there is no known cause for SIDS, it is challenging to establish which child is at a higher risk of SIDS. However, most children who die from SIDS are between 0-6 months. Being a young mother, drug and substance abuse by the mother during pregnancy, lack of prenatal care, and failing to breastfeed your baby also increases the risk for SIDS.

Diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of SIDS

Diagnosis of SIDS is established when clinical history and a full medical investigation fails to establish the cause of death. Because SIDS occurs unexpectedly, there are no recorded symptoms or warning signs that can be used to prevent death. However, measures that can be used to control known risk factors include breastfeeding your child, avoiding smoking and alcohol when pregnant, sharing a room with your baby, avoid bed-sharing, and seeking regular prenatal care for your baby as required.


Goldberg, Neal, et al. “Sudden infant death syndrome: a review.” Pediatric Annals 47.3 (2018): e118-e123.

Li, Aihua, et al. “Animal models: illuminating the pathogenesis of sudden infant death syndrome.” SIDS Sudden Infant and Early Childhood Death: The Past, the Present and the Future. University of Adelaide Press, 2018.

Horne, Rosemary SC. “Sudden infant death syndrome: current perspectives.” Internal medicine journal 49.4 (2019): 433-438.


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