SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexplained and unexpected death of an apparently well infant. This most often occurs between the ages of 2 weeks and 1 year. Males and premature infants are affected more often than others. Death usually comes while the infant is sleeping and occurs more often in the winter months.
The etiology of SIDS is unclear but in 10-15 % of the cases the infant shows an abnormality in the heart or brain at autopsy. Signs of overwhelming infection have also been noted postmortemly. This is called septicemia, the exact cause of the infection is unknown.
According to the American SIDS Institute, SIDS is:
the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history.
The cause of SIDS is unknown, although there are precautions that parents can take to decrease the risk. Here are some of those precautions:
- Parents should always place their infants on their backs while they are sleeping. Research has shown that infants that sleep on their stomachs have an increased chance of SIDS.
- It is also important that firm mattresses are used, along with removing any blankets, pillows, bumper pads, toys, or other loose articles.
- Keep the infants crib in the parents room for the first 6 months of life.
- Do not over dress the infant during sleep.
- Avoid exposing the infant to tobacco smoke.
- Breast feed as long as possible.
- Offer the infant a pacifier.
- Keep the infant away from people with respiratory illnesses.
- If your infant ever has difficulty breathing, or stops breathing even for a brief moment, contact the pediatrician immediately.
I have posted the link to the American SIDS Institute. There you will be able to find detailed information regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.