Crib Death: Prevention
The term crib death is used when a previously well infant dies suddenly during sleep. It's also called SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. Most of these babies are under 6 months of age, although crib deaths can occur up until 12 months. On careful investigation and autopsy, no cause for death is found. Currently crib deaths occur at a rate of 1 for every 1400 live births. At this time, despite extensive research, the exact cause of true crib death remains unknown. Although there is nothing a parent can do to prevent most crib deaths, here are some other causes of infant death that are preventable.
- First: Have your baby sleep on her back for the first 6 months of life. The abdomen-down position can put pressure on the child's face during sleep and cause the child to re-breathe air not containing enough oxygen. Since 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all healthy infants sleep on their backs. Be sure your babysitters know how important this is.
- Second: Never place your young baby on a water bed, soft pillow, bean-filled pillow or sheep skin pad. All of these soft surfaces have caused smothering in babies who are too young to turn their face away. Always use a firm mattress for infants.
- Third: Avoid overheating. Do not bundle up your baby in a warm room or during hot weather. Infants cannot remove their clothing when they are hot. This places them at special risk for overheating and heat stroke.
- Fourth: Don't let your baby sleep in your bed during the first 6 months. The mattresses in most adult beds are too soft for babies. Blankets and pillows also increase the risk. If you nurse your baby in your bed at night, be careful to put her back in her crib. Some babies have been smothered by a mother who is a deep sleeper and falls asleep on top of them.
In summary, these are tragedies you can avoid. You can also reduce the risk of crib death by breast-feeding and protecting your infant from exposure to tobacco smoke.
If you have any questions about crib death, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 9/1/2001
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.