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Understanding SIDS

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Understanding SIDS

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) awareness month. Also known as Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUIDS), the term comes from the sudden, unpredictable and unexplained deaths of infants; and is the leading cause of infant deaths ages one month to one year.

Though researchers caution against certain behaviors as an attempt to prevent and decrease SIDS, the lack of definitive answers to the causes of SIDS is a large part of why it is so frightening for parents and providers alike. Past research has put emphasis on safe sleeping tactics in an attempt to prevent infant deaths. Here are some tips from KidsHealth.Org:

  • Get early and regular prenatal care.

  • Place your baby on a firm, flat mattress to sleep, never on a pillow, waterbed, sheepskin, couch, chair, or other soft surface.

  • Cover the mattress with a fitted sheet and no other bedding. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the sleep area.

  • Do not use bumper pads in cribs. Bumper pads can be a suffocation or strangulation hazard.

  • Practice room-sharing without bed-sharing. Experts recommend that infants sleep in their parents' room — but on a separate surface, like a bassinet or crib next to the bed — until the child's first birthday, or for at least 6 months, when the risk of SIDS is highest.

  • Breastfeed, if possible. Exclusive breastfeeding or feeding with expressed milk is most protective, but any breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.

  • Offer a pacifier to your baby at sleep time, but don’t force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, you don’t have to replace it. If you're breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is firmly established.

  • To avoid overheating, dress your baby for the room temperature and don't over bundle. Don't cover your baby's head while they're sleeping. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or feeling hot to the touch.

  • Don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth. Infants of moms who smoked during pregnancy are more at risk for SIDS than those whose mothers were smoke-free; exposure to secondhand smoke also raises a baby's risk, and that risk is very high if a parent who smokes shares the bed with a baby.

  • Do not use alcohol or drugs during pregnancy or after birth. Parents who drink or use drugs should not share a bed with their infant.

  • Don’t let your baby fall asleep on a product that isn’t specifically designed for sleeping babies, such as a sitting device (like a car seat), a feeding pillow (like the Boppy pillow), or an infant lounger (like the Dock-a-Tot, Podster, and Bummzie).

  • Don’t use products or devices that claim to lower the risk of SIDS, such as sleep positioners (like wedges or incliners) or monitors that can detect a baby’s heart rate and breathing pattern. No known products can actually do this.

  • Don’t use weighted blankets, sleepers, or swaddles on or around your baby.

  • Make sure that all sleep surfaces and products you use to help your baby sleep have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and meet federal safety standards.

  • Make sure your baby gets all recommended immunizations. Studies have shown that babies who receive their vaccines have a lower risk of SIDS (Gavin, 2017).


Boston’s Children’s Hospital shares some key risk factors that contribute to SIDS:

  • placing a baby on their side or stomach to sleep, rather than on their back

  • premature or low birth weight babies

  • overheating the baby during sleep

  • sleeping on too soft a surface, with loose blankets and bumper pads

  • having a sibling who died of SIDS, or a family history of failure to thrive

While SIDS can affect any family, it often strikes babies whose mothers:

  • are under 20 years old when their babies are born

  • smoke during pregnancy (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS | Boston Children’s Hospital, n.d.)


Though SIDS may seem like an impossible and scary possibility looming over newly born infants, there is hope in modern research. An article from The New York Times explains,

“Scientists in Australia have found that some babies at risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, have low levels of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) in their blood. Their study, published May 6 in the journal eBioMedicine, could pave the way for newborn screening and interventions if the results are corroborated by further research (Sheikh, 2022).” While these findings seem to have found a possible medical reason for the unexplained deaths, more research needs to be done before it can be confirmed.

Talk to your provider about the risk of SIDS for your infant and let CCH walk with you in those first steps for preventing SIDS.Campbell County Medical Group (CCMG) Pediatrics provides complete healthcare for children, from infancy to adolescence. The Clinic’s primary focus is the well being of your child. Call for an appointment at 307.688.3636 or visit our website.

For parents and families who have experienced a SIDS death, many groups, including First Candle, can provide grief counseling, support, and referrals. Campbell County Health would also like to extend our Behavioral Health Services to those who need support.



Gavin, M. (2017). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (for Parents) - KidsHealth.

New Research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2022, from

Sheikh, K. (2022, May 16). New Research Offers Clues as to Why Some Babies Die of SIDS. The New York Times.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome SIDS | Boston Children’s Hospital. (n.d.).

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics