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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 12-06-2007

Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden, unexplained death of an infant, and is the one of the main causes of death among infants between a month and a year. SIDS is said to occur only when no possible explanation can be found even after:

  • Autopsy
  • Examination of the place where the death occurred
  • Review of medical history of infant and family

The baby typically does not seem to show any sign of suffering and death occurs rapidly. In addition, SIDS is commonly known as crib death because of a strong link with sleep. It is estimated that 2,500 babies in the United States die of unknown causes every year.


Probable Causes

While no single cause can be pinpointed, researchers believe that SIDS may be the result of a combination of several factors.
During pregnancy:

  • Consumption of prohibited substances during pregnancy (tobacco, alcohol, drugs, etc.)
  • Early motherhood
  • Poor medical care during pregnancy
  • Short interval between two pregnancies

After birth:

  • Exposure to smoke after birth
  • Sleeping on the stomach or sleeping on too soft a surface

The last point should be emphasized, as babies tend to pause in their breathing, or re-breathe exhaled air, reducing the amount of oxygen in their blood while increasing carbon dioxide. Babies need clear space around their heads to breathe freely.


  • Ensure that your child always sleeps on the back. Sleeping on the side is also not a good alternative. For babies, sleeping on the back reduces the chance of accidental death greatly.
  • Your infant’s sleep area should be firm, without any pillows, toys, or covering. A firm mattress is preferable to a soft one. Remove stuffed animals during nap or sleep time  
  • Keep a comfortable room temperature. Excess body heat is seen to increase the chances of SIDS.
  • For unknown reasons, breast-feeding and pacifiers are known to decrease the risk of SIDS.
  • Keep the air around the baby free of smoke.



Infants who sleep in the prone position also have increased rates of: - Social skills delays at 6 months (Dewey, Fleming, et al, 1998) - Motor skills delays at 6 months (Dewey, Fleming, et al, 1998) - gastroesophageal reflux (GER) (Corvaglia, 2007) - Milestone delays (Davis, Moon, et al., 1998) - Plagiocephaly, Torticollis, Strabismus, etc. - Slow Wave Sleep Decrease, Overall Sleep Decrease, Increase in Apnea - Also, Stomach sleep prevents subluxation of the hips My question is: If a doctor was presented with a baby that had social skills delays, motor skills delays, and gastroesophageal reflux what would a doctor say if a child had these three things but not too bad. The doctor might tell the parent to be patient and that different kids develop differently. But, what if the case was more severe - what if the kids social skills were worse? The doctor might diagnose him with ADHD. But, what if the kids delays were really far behind - that is the kid had very large delays in social skills and motor skills along with GER? The doctor might diagnose him with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I think part (if not all) of the Autism Epidemic is caused by the SIDS Back to Sleep campaign. 8 year olds in the year 2000 (born in 1992) = 10,055 with Autism 8 year old in the year 2007 (born in 1999) = 24, 669 with Autism (146% Increase) Infants that slept on their backs in 1992 = 13.0% Infants that slept on their backs in 1999 = 65.7% (405% Increase) “A lot of us are concerned that the rate (of SIDS) isn’t decreasing significantly, but that a lot of it is just code shifting,’ said John Kattwinkel, chairman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s special task force on SIDS.” Scripps Howard News Service Interview Four Factor Theory at Blogspot