Risk factors of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome


While mechanism of SIDS is not known yet, there are several risk factors that increase the chance of sudden death incidence. These are not causes, but only correlate with this syndrome.

Infants risk factors:

  1. Sleeping position is the most important risk factor for SIDS. Remember to put your child to sleep on the back – it lowers the chance of developing SIDS by half.
  2. Boys are more likely to die because of SIDS, but a large margin. Sex ratio for SIDS is around 1:2, girls vs boys.
  3. Age is an important factor, as the most of SIDS incidences happen between second and fourth months of life. Newborns and children over 1 year old don’t die because of SIDS.
  4. For unknown reasons black, American Indian and Eskimo infants die more often from SIDS than other races.
  5. Passive smoking is also an important risk factor. Remember that smoking next to your infant has long term negative effects (such as high chance of infertility), but also immediately increases SIDS chances.
  6. Low birth weight and premature birth increase the risk of SIDS, for unknown reasons. Some researchers claim it’s due to developing hypophosphatemia, as low birth weight infants have much higher phosphate needs than normal weight infants.

Other risk factors:

  1. If mother is younger than 20, her child has a higher risk of SIDS.
  2. Mother smoking cigarettes during pregnancy also increases chances that a newborn will develop SIDS.
  3. Similarly, infants have a higher chance of dying because of SIDS if mother is using drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. Also, these substances increase substantially the risk of developmental defficiences (usage of antidepressants in pregnancy is linked to autism), so avoid them at all cost.
  4. Lack of adequate prenatal care is also an importan risk factor for SIDS.