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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

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CHILDREN'S HEALTH

Infants

 

Risk factors

Although SIDS can strike any infant, researchers have identified several factors that may increase a baby's risk. At higher risk are babies who:

  • Are male. Boy babies are more likely to die of SIDS than girl babies are.

  • Are between 2 weeks and 6 months of age. Infants are most vulnerable in the second and third months of life.

  • Are premature or of low birth weight. Your baby is more susceptible to SIDS if he or she is premature or weighs 4.4 pounds or less at birth.

  • Have a sibling who died of SIDS.

  • Developed a sudden, life-threatening illness requiring resuscitation.

  • Are black or American Indian. For reasons that aren't well understood, race appears to play a role in SIDS. A higher incidence of certain metabolic conditions may put some children at greater risk. In addition, cultural differences in child-care practices — such as whether babies are placed to sleep on their backs — also is likely a factor.

  • Are placed to sleep on their stomachs. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are two or three times more likely to die of SIDS than are babies who sleep on their backs. At one time, doctors recommended stomach sleeping because babies rest more soundly in that position. But it's now known that stomach sleeping greatly increases a baby's risk.

  • Are born to mothers who use drugs. Smoking cigarettes during your pregnancy or using drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methadone while you're pregnant puts your baby at higher risk of SIDS.

  • Are exposed to tobacco smoke. Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are harder to rouse from sleep, which increases the risk of SIDS.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:21 AM