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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

New Study on SIDS Risks

By March 26, 2012

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The back-to-sleep campaign, initiated in 1994 by the National Institute of Child Health and Development helped to decrease the SIDS rate in the United States by over 50% and is one of the great health achievements of the 20th century.

A new study that will be published in the April issue of Pediatrics, "Risk Factor Changes for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome After Initiation of Back-to-Sleep Campaign," takes a look at the risks for SIDS, which is especially important as SIDS rates have leveled off since the initial gains of the back-to-sleep campaign started.

The study, not surprisingly, found that the risk factors for SIDS has changed since over the years, as fewer parents put their babies to sleep on their stomach. All SIDS cases do have at least one risk factor though, including:

  • bedsharing
  • sleeping in an adult bed
  • side sleeping
  • upper respiratory tract infection symptoms
  • having a mother who smokes

Still, prone sleeping (being put to sleep on their stomach instead of their back) is the biggest risk factor for SIDS.

The study also suggests that in addition to these extrinsic risk factors, many SIDS cases also have an intrinsic risk factor, such as male gender, prematurity, prenatal exposure to alcohol or cigarettes, or a genetic factor, and that these intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors come together at a critical time (the triple-risk model for SIDS) during a baby's first year.

That suggests that "risk reduction campaigns that emphasize the importance of avoiding multiple and simultaneous SIDS risks are essential."

SIDS Definition
Back to Sleep Reminder
Crib Safety
Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of SIDS

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