Sudden infant death syndrome

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the death of a baby who is younger than 1 year old without a known cause. Typically, a parent or other caregiver puts the baby—who seems healthy—down to sleep and returns later to find the baby has died.

No one is at fault when a baby dies of SIDS; it can be neither predicted nor completely prevented. A baby's death is not considered a case of SIDS when a specific cause is discovered, such as carbon monoxide poisoning. By definition, SIDS is considered the cause of a baby's death only when the death remains unexplained, even after a thorough investigation.

SIDS is also known as crib death, cot death, or sudden infant death, unexplained (SIDU).

Placing babies on their back before putting them down to sleep reduces the risk of SIDS.

Last Updated: September 15, 2008

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine

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