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

What is SIDS?

Risk Factors

Modifiable risk factors for SIDS include:

  • Prone sleep position
  • Soft or loose bedding
  • Inappropriate sleep environments
  • Bedsharing
  • Overheating
  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Maternal alcohol and illegal drug use

Non-modifiable risk factors include:

  • Male gender
  • Age Distribution: 2 to 6 months
  • Low birth weight
  • Prematurity
  • Maternal smoking during pregnancy
  • Young maternal age especially mothers less than 18 years old
  • Late or no prenatal care
  • Fall/winter season
  • Higher parity

Risk factors have traditionally been used to help establish the cause of a disease and to then treat that cause. However, if risk factors are known but the cause(s) is not, as in SIDS, the question becomes whether or not it is reasonable to try to change or modify known risk factors in the hope that it may decrease the chances of the problem happening.

It is helpful to consider the risk/benefit ratio when deciding whether modifiable risk factors should be changed. In the case of SIDS risk factors, it is reasonable to change these factors as they not only affect the risk for SIDS but other areas of infant and child health as well and they do no harm to the infant.