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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS, is the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history.

In a typical situation parents check on their supposedly sleeping infant to find him or her dead. This is the worse tragedy parents can face, a tragedy which leaves them with a sadness and a feeling of vulnerability that lasts throughout their lives. Since medicine can not tell them why their baby died, they blame themselves and often other innocent people. Their lives and those around them are changed forever.

What Can Be Done?

SIDS can neither be predicted or prevented. To do so will require a considerably expanded research effort. However, there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of SIDS.

  1. Place infants to sleep on their backs, even though infants may sleep more soundly on their stomachs. Infants who sleep on their stomachs and sides have a higher risk of SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs.
  2. Place infants to sleep in a baby bed with a firm mattress. There should be nothing in the bed but the baby - no covering, no pillows, no bumper pads and no toys. Soft mattresses and heavy covering are associated with the risk for SIDS.
  3. Do not over-clothe the infant while he/she sleeps. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for you. Overheating an infant may increase the risk for SIDS.
  4. Avoid exposing the infant to tobacco smoke. Don't have your infant in the same house or car with someone who is smoking. The greater the exposure to tobacco smoke, the greater the risk of SIDS.

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