Erica Martin, M.D.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a mystery that plagues both researchers and parents alike. Though it is a frightening concept, parents can give themselves some peace of mind by knowing the risk factors and methods for potentially preventing SIDS.
SIDS is when a seemingly healthy baby dies without explanation. 90 percent of SIDS cases occur in infants less than 6 months of age, with a peak between 2 and 4 months of age. It is the leading cause of death in infants from 1 month to 1 year of age. It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, some modifiable and others not.
The condition is not predictable. It can only be diagnosed through autopsy, therefore focusing on reducing risk factors is very important.
There are some risk factors that are thought to trigger SIDS in a genetically susceptible infant. These are modifiable and listed below. Some risk factors are not modifiable such as having a close relative succumb to SIDS. In this situation, parents should inform and discuss this with their pediatrician.
Modifiable risk factors:
Despite taking steps to protect babies from SIDS, there are still infants dying of the syndrome daily. It is important to remember that this kind of death is unexplainable and not the fault of the caretaker.
Babies that die of SIDS show no sign of suffering, however those left behind may experience a great deal of pain. If you have lost a child or loved one to SIDS, please speak with a grief counselor.