Research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is the term used to describe the sudden, unexplained death of a baby under one year of age. In the past, SIDS was sometimes called "crib death", even though cribs themselves do not cause SIDS. Researchers estimate that SIDS is the cause of about 2,500 infant deaths each year.
Like any loss of a child, SIDS can be devastating to a family. If you or your family has been touched by SIDS, you may want to seek counseling to help deal with the emotions of the loss. For more information on where to go for such counseling, please talk to your health care provider, or contact the First Candle SIDS Alliance at 1-800-221-7437.
Although the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, researchers have discovered trends in SIDS deaths that may help them understand this mysterious fatal problem. For instance:
Ways to Reduce the Risk of SIDS
The Back to Sleep Campaign
Reducing SIDS deaths has been a goal of the NICHD since it was founded. In 1974, congress passed the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act (Public Law 93-270), which placed the NICHD at the forefront of SIDS research. This Act also charged the NICHD with providing information to the people of the United States about SIDS and ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.
In 1991, as a result of NICHD-supported research, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) began recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep, at nap time and at bedtime, to help reduce the risk of SIDS. In 1994, the NICHD joined the AAP and other partners in starting the Back to Sleep campaign, an effort to educate the public about reducing the risk of SIDS by placing babies to sleep on their backs. Since that time, the number of SIDS deaths has dropped by 50 percent.
The Back to Sleep campaign, now nearly a decade old, has expanded its messages to address the topics of SIDS and SIDS reduction among certain ethnic groups. This expanded effort now includes the Back to Sleep African American outreach, Back to Sleep materials in Spanish, and a forthcoming outreach project in American Indian communities. By partnering with national and community-based organizations that serve these audiences, the Back to Sleep campaign can get the safe sleeping message to many communities, to save infant lives.
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