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

What is SIDS?

Modifiable Risk Factors

Sleeping baby


Overheating, sometimes referred to as thermal stress, has been identified as a modifiable risk though it is still unclear why thermal stress may trigger a SIDS death. A number of hypotheses and theories continue to be investigated and new information and research are published periodically. Research indicates that SIDS deaths are more common in the winter and fall seasons. One theory links seasonality with overheating and a tendency to overdress during colder seasons.48

Parents should maintain a comfortable room temperature for the infant while avoiding overheating. Risk reduction campaigns should place greater emphasis on the hazards of overheating and thermal stress and should continue to reinforce the importance of placing infants on their backs to sleep with no head covering.49

Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Environmental or secondhand smoke is a risk factor for SIDS.50 Research shows that exposure to cigarette smoke in the environment after birth doubles an infant’s risk of SIDS. Secondhand or passive smoke contains a number of hazardous chemicals including nicotine, ammonia, arsenic, methane and carbon monoxide.51

With regard to tobacco exposure and possibly secondhand exposure in utero, it is postulated that smoke exposure may disrupt the sleep arousal mechanism in infants and contribute to death by compromising an infant’s ability to respond to adverse conditions.