SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

What is SIDS?

What SIDS is Not

Immunizations and Vaccines

Immunizations and Vaccines

One common misconception is that DTaP vaccines are associated with SIDS deaths. Some people think there is a causal connection because a moderate proportion of children who die from SIDS have recently been vaccinated with DTaP. Because infants receive many immunization shots during the critical development period of one to six months of age and 90 percent of SIDS deaths occur within this time frame, it is only logical that many SIDS victims have recently received vaccines.84

This does not mean that the immunization had anything to do with the infant’s subsequent sudden and unexpected death. Specifically, considering that most SIDS deaths occur during an age range when three DTaP shots are given, DTaP shots preceding a number of SIDS deaths simply by chance would be expected.

Because SIDS is the leading cause of death during the postneonatal period, it is important to respond to concerns that vaccination might play a role in SIDS. The cause and effect of immunizations and SIDS has been comprehensively studied for more than two decades. In 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report reviewing the epidemiologic evidence, focusing on three outcomes: SIDS, all Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and neonatal death which is an infant death, whether sudden or not, during the first four weeks of life.

In fact, when a number of well-controlled studies were conducted during the 1980s, the investigators found nearly unanimously that the number of SIDS deaths temporally associated with DTaP vaccination was within the range expected to occur by chance proving that the SIDS deaths would have occurred even if no vaccinations had been given.

In several of the studies, infants who had recently received a DTaP shot were found to be less likely to die from SIDS.

IOM reported that all controlled studies that have compared immunized versus nonimmunized children have found either no association or a decreased risk of SIDS among immunized children and concluded that the evidence does not indicate a causal relation between the DTaP vaccine and SIDS.85

Currently, both the CDC and AAP recommend that infants receive multiple doses of vaccines during their first year of life. If there were no vaccines, there would be many more cases of disease and along with them, more deaths.