Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) occurs when a generally healthy child suddenly and unexpectedly dies for no apparent reason.
It is the leading cause of death in infants from one to twelve months old.
SIDS is often associated with sleep. It was formerly referred to as "crib death".
Researchers have studied sudden infant death syndrome for decades but have not been able to fully understand why it occurs.
And though 2,500 children die each year from SIDS in the United States, many parents do not know much about the syndrome or how to prevent it.
To spotlight the need for awareness, the National Institute of Health designated October as Sudden Infant Death Awareness month.
It is their mission to educate the public, parents, and caregivers about the ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Here are five specific tips for lowering the risk of sudden infant death syndrome:
SAFE SLEEP TIPS
1. "Back to sleep".
Place baby to sleep on his or her back at all times until the baby can consistently roll over by him/herself, usually between 4 and 7 months of age.
2. Use a safe crib.
Only use a crib that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress that fits snuggly inside it. The mattress should be covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. Remove all soft bedding and toys from the crib.
3. Wear the blanket.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested putting the baby in a wearable blanket or sleep sack instead of using loose blankets to keep the baby warm.
There is evidence that breastfeeding reduces the incidence of SIDS though the reason for this is not known.
5. Don't dress the baby too warmly.
Keeping a baby from getting too hot while sleeping can reduce the risk of SIDS. Experts suggest keeping the room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other risk reduction strategies suggested include getting good prenatal care, not allowing smoke around the baby, offering a pacifier to soothe the child to sleep, and making sure the child is up-to-date on recommended immunizations.