Sudden infant death syndrome

Alternative Names

Crib death; SIDS

Definition of Sudden infant death syndrome

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age 1 in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

SIDS rates have dropped dramatically since 1992, when parents were first told to put babies to sleep on their backs or sides to reduce the likelihood of SIDS. Unfortunately, SIDS remains a significant cause of death in infants under one year old. Thousands of babies die of SIDS in the United States each year.

Symptoms

There are no symptoms. Babies who die of SIDS do not appear to suffer or struggle.

Signs and tests

Autopsy results are not able to confirm a cause of death, but may help add to the existing knowledge about SIDS. Autopsies may be required by state law in the event of unexplainable death.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/2/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.