The Mason Werner Foundation


SIDS Information

What is SIDS?

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation, which includes an autopsy, examination of the death scene (Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines), and review of the symptoms or illnesses the infant had prior to dying and any other pertinent medical and family history and a complete death scene investigation. (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Marian Willinger, PhD, 1992).  SIDS is the number one cause of infant mortality for babies from one month to one year of age.

What causes SIDS?
The cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is unknown; however, research is being done in many areas. One of the more promising areas of research is with the brain stem where all autonomic nervous system functions occur. There is mounting evidence that suggests some SIDS babies are born with brain abnormalities that make them vulnerable to sudden death during infancy. Studies of SIDS victims reveal that many SIDS infants have abnormalities in the "arcuate nucleus," a portion of the brain that is involved in control of arousal (breathing and waking) during sleep. Babies born with defects in other portions of the brain or body may also be more prone to a sudden death. These abnormalities may stem from prenatal exposure to a toxic substance, one being nicotine, or lack of a vital compound in the prenatal environment, such as sufficient oxygen.

Can SIDS be Prevented?
No, SIDS can't be prevented.  However, there are risk reduction measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of SIDS. 

Risk Reduction Measures (Provided by the CJ Foundation for SIDS)
 We don’t know what causes SIDS, so we cannot say how to “avoid” it, but we can provide you with the most up-to-minute guidelines for reducing the risk of SIDS and other sudden unexplained infant deaths (SUID). First and foremost, educate yourself and everyone who cares for your baby on how to reduce the risks by following these guidelines:

1.       Always lay your baby to sleep face up, in an approved crib, on a firm mattress. 

2.       Remove all loose bedding, stuffed animals, bumpers and pillows from the crib

3.       Control room temperature and don’t let your baby get too hot

4.       Consider using a fan to increase air circulation in baby’s room

5.       Don’t share sleep surfaces: sleep in the same room, but not the same bed or other sleep surface, as baby

6.       Offer your baby a pacifier at all sleep times.

7.       Don’t smoke while pregnant and never allow smoke near your infant.

8.       If possible, breast feed your baby.

9.       Put your baby on his or her tummy to play when your baby is awake and supervised.

10.   Create a healthy lifestyle for you and your baby.


Share these tips with everyone who cares for your baby. Education is the key to keeping your baby safe. 



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