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Sudden infant death syndrome



Respiratory system


Upper respiratory tract disorders
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Respiratory system pathology review

Sudden infant death syndrome


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High Yield Notes
7 pages

Sudden infant death syndrome

7 flashcards
External References

Content Reviewers:

Rishi Desai, MD, MPH


Tanner Marshall, MS

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which is also known as cot death, crib death, is the sudden and unexplainable death of an infant during their first year of life.

Because of the seemingly random nature of the condition, there are a number of risk factors that seem to correlate with getting SIDS, but there’s no clear mechanism or cause that’s been identified.

SIDS is considered a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning all other causes have to be ruled out before an infant death is given that label.

The most well-known risk factors have to do with how an infant sleeps; to lower the risk of SIDS the recommendation is to make sure that babies sleep alone in a crib, on their backs and without blankets.

The risk of SIDS is higher among boys rather than girls, as well as infants between two and four months old, and among formula-fed babies, and those born prematurely or with low birth weight.

Risk factors that relate to a mother include receiving little or no prenatal care, being a teenage mother, and smoking during the pregnancy.

Alcohol consumption is also thought to be a risk factor because there are more cases of SIDS during weekends, the New Year, and other times of year when drinking is included in celebrations.

The fact that far more boys die of SIDS than girls shows that there is a level of genetic susceptibility at play, but the exact specifics are unclear.

A minority of SIDS-related deaths show a correlation with genetically inherited channelopathies, which are defects in ion channels that affect a variety of tissues, including the heart.


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age. SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion and requires that death remains unexplained even after a thorough autopsy and detailed death scene investigation. Possible risk factors for SIDS include sleeping on the stomach or side, sleeping on a soft surface, and exposure to cigarette smoke. over-bundling, and sleeping in a room where there are multiple people. To lower the risk of SIDS the recommendation is to not expose babies to cigarette smoke, and to make sure that babies sleep alone in a crib, on their backs, and without blankets.