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Sudden infant death syndrome -- the term used when a baby dies unexpectedly, with no explanation -- is rare, but it's still the leading cause of death among infants one month to one year of age. Though tons of research has been done, no one has been able to determine exactly why SIDS occurs, and there are no identifiable warning signs or symptoms.

Top 5 Steps Moms Can Take to Minimize the Risk of SIDS

  1. Get good prenatal care (prematurity has been linked to SIDS).
  2. Avoid drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes during pregnancy.
  3. Protect your baby from secondhand smoke, which has been found to increase the risk of SIDS.
  4. Avoid overheating your baby with extra clothes and blankets.
  5. Have your baby sleep on a very firm mattress.

Anything that boosts your baby's overall health will reduce his or her SIDS risk, according to Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, FAAP, and CEO and chief editor of Pediatrics Now. Dr. O'Keeffe recommends breastfeeding as well as getting regular well-baby visits and immunizations.


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What Moms Can Do to Lower the Risk of SIDS in the Crib

There is a higher rate of SIDS among babies who sleep on their stomachs and sides than those infants who sleep on their backs.

Dr. O'Keeffe says, "There's a strong correlation between SIDS and sleep position. Since 1992, when the National Institutes of Health initiated the 'Back to Sleep' campaign (which advocates putting babies on their backs or sides to sleep, even for naps), incidences of SIDS have dropped 40 percent in the United States."

Dr. O'Keeffe adds, "An annoying side effect of having babies sleep on their backs is that their heads kind of flatten out; you can avoid that by alternating which side of the crib you place your baby's head on each night, and by practicing 'tummy time' when the baby is awake and supervised."

Babies who sleep in a room with a fan are 72% less likely to die from SIDS, according to a recent study from "Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine." Fans offered even more protection to babies sleeping in warm rooms, where temperatures were over 69 degrees.

Although opening a window also appeared to reduce the risk of SIDS, authors say this finding could have been due to chance. Although doctors don't know exactly why fans seem to help, it's possible fans improve air circulation, preventing infants from rebreathing exhaled carbon dioxide, which can pool up in the gap between a baby's face and the mattress.

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Related Momlogic Stories on SIDS

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  2. Fans May Reduce the Risk of SIDS
  3. Dear Andrew

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Additional Resources for SIDS