Patrick L. Carolan, MD
David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
In this Article
What are the risk factors for SIDS?
Research studies continue to demonstrate a greater risk for SIDS among male infants. SIDS is observed more frequently during winter months than summer months, although this distribution is not as pronounced in recent years as it had been in the past. In the United States, both African-American and Native-American infants have a higher rate of SIDS than do Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian infants.
Certain infant-care practices have an effect on the risk for SIDS. Most notable is the increased risk associated with the placement of infants on their stomachs (prone sleep position) for sleep. The "Back to Sleep" campaign was launched in the United States in 1994 and embodies a public-health effort encouraging families to place infants on their backs (supine sleep position) to sleep. Since the start of this campaign, SIDS rates have dropped 50% in the United States. Similar drops have been observed worldwide, highlighting the importance of the supine sleep position for infants.
Other factors increasing the risk for SIDS include exposure to cigarette smoke, bed-sharing or co-sleeping, over-bundling or the covering of the infant's head by bed covers, loose bedding, or blankets. Research studies continue to suggest that breastfeeding and pacifier use may reduce the risk of SIDS.
How is SIDS diagnosed?
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Sudden infant death remains an unpredictable, unpreventable, and largely inexplicable tragedy. The baby is seemingly healthy without any sign of distress or significant illness prior to the incident.
Sudden, unexpected infant death (SUID) is a general term used for the circumstance of an infant death which occurs suddenly and in an unexpected manner. SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that other causes of death must be ruled out. The cause of an infant's death can be determined only through a process of collecting information and conducting, at times, complex forensic tests and procedures. All other recognizable causes of death are investigated prior to making the diagnosis of SIDS.
Four major avenues of investigation aid in the determination of a SIDS death: postmortem lab tests, autopsy, death-scene investigation, and the review of victim and family case history.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2013
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