The unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant. SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome is a parent's worst fear. An apparently healthy infant, usually less than 12 months old, with no obvious previous or present illness is laid in bed for sleep and never awakens. Examination of the infant's medical history, home, and even an autopsy do not reveal the cause of death in true SIDS cases. Fortunately, the number of SIDS deaths has been falling over the past few years, it has decreased by 50% since 1983. Currently, about 2500 babies die of SIDS annually in the US.
Infants at increased risk for SIDS are those younger than 6 months of age, those born prematurely, males, and twins or triplets. Although parents can't control these factors, research suggests there are risk factors for SIDS that parents can control.
Factors that parents can alter to reduce the risk of SIDS are: Put your baby to sleep lying on her back rather than stomach (may reduce the risk of SIDS by 25% to 50%).
Use firm bedding underneath your infant. Soft bedding (natural fiber mattresses, comforters, etc.) should be avoided- they may increase the risk of SIDS.
Keep your baby's environment smoke free.
Don't allow your infant to get overheated with excessive bedding, clothing, or a room heater.
Breastfeed your infant.