Thursday, 20 December 2012

SIDS: NICHD Overview

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old.

It is the leading cause of death in children between 1 month and 1 year of age.1 Although there is no sure way to prevent SIDS, parents and caregivers can reduce the risk for SIDS.
The NICHD has been a leader in research on SIDS since the early 1970s. To complement its research, the NICHD partnered with other organizations to launch the Safe to Sleep campaign(formerly the Back to Sleep campaign) in 1994 to educate parents, caregivers, and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS. Since then, SIDS rates in the United States have decreased by 50%.2
For more information about this topic, select the Condition Information, Research Information, Clinical Trials, or Resources and Publications link in the menu on the left.

Fast Facts

Common Names

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Crib death
  • Cot Death

What is SIDS?

SIDS is the sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year old that is unexplained after a full workup is done, including an autopsy of the baby, a review of the medical history, and a review of the circumstances surrounding the death.

How many families are affected?

Each year, more than 2,000 infants die from SIDS.3 It is the third-leading cause of infant death in the United States, following abnormalities of birth and complications related to low birth weight. Among infants older than 1 month, SIDS is the leading cause of infant death.4

What causes it?

Researchers don’t know exactly what causes SIDS, but there are several theories.5

How can I reduce the risk of SIDS?

The most effective way to reduce the risk for SIDS is to place infants on their backs to sleep for all sleep times—for naps and at night.6 Other ways of reducing risk include creating a safe sleep environment.7 For a complete list of ways to reduce the risk for SIDS, visit the How can I reduce the risk of SIDS? section.

  1. Mathews, T. J., & MacDorman, M. (2011). Infant mortality statistics from the 2007 period linked birth/infant death data set. National Vital Statistics Report, 59, 1-30. Retrieved June 6, 2012, from (PDF - 750 KB) [top]
  2. NICHD. (2006). SIDS rate and back sleeping. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from (PDF - 48 KB) [top]
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). Retrieved May 23, 2012, from [top]
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Infant health. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from [top]
  5. NICHD. (2006). Continuing education program on SIDS risk reduction. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from (PDF - 2.32 MB) [top]
  6. NICHD. (2005). Safe sleep for your baby. Retrieved June 15, 2012. [top]
  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 128, 1030-1039. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from - 336 KB) [top]

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