SIDS is the "...sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history." (M. Willinger et al. Pediatric Pathology, 1991).
In the United States, SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age. However, the SIDS rate has declined both nationally and in New Jersey since 1994, following the onset of the “Back to Sleep” campaign. That program and other educational initiatives present guidelines for reducing the risk of occurrence that are based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In New Jersey, the SIDS Center of New Jersey provides education about these guidelines for parents, grandparents and other care givers, health care providers, child care workers, first responders, and the general public. Materials are also available from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations include the following:
- Always place baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night. The back sleep position is the safest, and every sleep time counts. There has been no increase in choking or other problems for babies who sleep on their backs.
- Place baby on a firm mattress that is covered by a fitted sheet. Never place your baby to sleep on pillows, quilts, or other soft surfaces.
- Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of baby’s sleep area. Don’t use pillows, blankets, sheepskins, quilts, or pillow-like crib bumpers in your baby’s sleep area, and keep all items away from baby’s face.
- Do not allow smoking around baby. Don’t smoke before or after the birth of your baby, and don’t let others smoke around your baby.
- Keep your baby’s sleep area close to but separate from where you and others sleep. Your baby should not sleep in a bed, couch or armchair with adults or other children, but your baby can sleep in the same room as you. If you do bring your baby into your bed with you to breastfeed or comfort, put him back in his own crib when you are ready to return to sleep. Be sure that the crib, bassinet or cradle you use meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Consider using a clean, dry pacifier when placing baby to sleep, but don’t force the baby to take it or reinsert it once the baby falls asleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until your baby is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before using it.
- Do not let your baby overheat during sleep.
- Provide "Tummy Time" when your baby is awake and someone is watching.
Caregivers should review these guidelines with their child’s health care provider. Additional literature and information can be obtained by contacting the SIDS Center of New Jersey at 1(800)545-7437.
This research protocol delineates required procedures for all medical research activities in
the State of New Jersey involving medical examiners and duly approved and authorized research
projects for the purpose of identifying potential causes of SIDS/SUDC.