Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 2,350 infants died from SIDS in 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available).1
SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between 1 month and 1 year of age.2
The majority (90%) of SIDS deaths occur before a child is 6 months old, with most happening between 1 and 4 months.3
What factors increase the risk of SIDS?
Currently, there is no known way to completely prevent SIDS, but there are ways to reduce the risk. Several factors present before the infant is born, at birth, and throughout the first year can impact SIDS risk. Many of these factors can be controlled or changed to reduce the risk, but some cannot be controlled or changed.
The single most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to lower SIDS risk is to place their baby to sleep on his or her back for all sleep times. Research shows that:4
- Stomach sleeping carries the highest risk for SIDS—between 1.7 and 12.9 times the risk of back sleeping.
- The side-lying position also increases the risk. It is unstable and babies can easily roll to their stomach.
- Back sleeping carries the lowest risk for SIDS and is safest.
To learn more about ways to reduce the risk for SIDS, visit the How can I reduce the risk of SIDS? section of this topic.
Other known risk factors for include the following:
- Preterm birth. Infants born before 39 weeks in the womb are at higher risk for SIDS than are infants born at full term.3
- Sex. More boys die from SIDS than do girls.5
- Race/ethnic origin. African American and American Indian/Alaska Native infants are at higher risk for SIDS than are white, Hispanic American, or Asian/Pacific Islander American infants.6
- Mathews, T. J., & MacDorman, M. F. (2012). Infant mortality statistics from the 2008 period linked birth/infant death data set. National Vital Statistics Report, 60. Retrieved July 19, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_05.pdf (PDF - 499 KB)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Infant health. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infant_health.htm
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 128, 1030-1039. Retrieved June 6, 2012, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1341.full
- American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (2005). The Changing Concept of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Diagnostic Coding Shifts, Controversies Regarding the Sleeping Environment, and New Variables to Consider in Reducing Risk. Pediatrics, 116, 1245-1255.
- Heron, M. (2012). Deaths: Leading causes for 2008. National Vital Statistics Reports, 60, 76. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_06.pdf (PDF - 2.8 MB)
- Mathews, T. J., & MacDorman, M. F. (2011). Infant mortality statistics from the 2007 period linked birth/infant death data set. National Vital Statistics Report, 59, 1-30. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_06.pdf (PDF - 750 KB)