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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month!

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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1-year-old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby’s sleep area. More than 1 out of 3 of sudden unexpected infant deaths that occur in the United States each year are from SIDS.1 Recent research also shows that unsafe bedding, such as soft or loose blankets in baby’s sleep area, remains a leading cause of infant death

This month and beyond, advocates and infant caregivers can join Safe to Sleep® and its partners to encourage safe infant sleep and help raise awareness about SIDS.

Although the rates of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths have decreased over the years, we still have work to do. more than one-third of sudden unexpected infant deaths that occur in the United States each year are from SIDS. Research also shows that unsafe sleep areas, such as those that include non-fitted sheets, blankets, or stuffed toys, remain a leading cause of infant death.2

Learn more about the problem

Fast Facts About SIDS

  • SIDS is a sudden and silent medical disorder that can happen to an infant who seems healthy.
  • SIDS is sometimes called “crib death” or “cot death” because it is associated with the time when the baby is sleeping. Cribs themselves don’t cause SIDS, but the baby’s sleep environment can influence sleep-related causes of death.
  • SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.
  • About 1,360 babies died of SIDS in 2017, the last year for which such statistics are available.
  • Most SIDS deaths happen in babies between 1 month and 4 months of age, and the majority (90%) of SIDS deaths happen before a baby reaches 6 months of age. However, SIDS deaths can happen anytime during a baby’s first year.
  • Slightly more boys die of SIDS than girls.
  • In the past, the number of SIDS deaths seemed to increase during the colder months of the year. But today, the numbers are more evenly spread throughout the year.
  • SIDS rates for the United States have dropped steadily since 1994 in all racial and ethnic groups. Thousands of infant lives have been saved, but some ethnic groups are still at higher risk for SIDS.

Click here for a toolkit of resources on SIDS

Use this toolkit to:

Keep updated on the latest NICHD news and media related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), sleep-related infant deaths, infant mortality, and the Safe to Sleep® campaign.


Click here for CDC statistics on SIDS

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Safe to Sleep is a public education campaign led by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in collaboration with other organizations

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