YORK, Pa. — In 2020, there were 1,389 deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
“SIDS death is really unexplained and it’s really hard to find a cause—a direct cause,” said Lauren Umstead, a registered nurse with Family First Health’s nurse-family partnership program. “A lot of times it’s not suffocation, that would be like, that would be classified differently, so ultimately, they stop breathing, but the cause of what makes them stop breathing is unknown.”
SIDS mainly impacts babies under a year old.
“Most deaths occur between less than 6 months—the peak age of SIDS is between two and four months of age,” said Umstead.
The syndrome isn’t completely preventable; however, there are things that parents can do to reduce the risk.
“Sleeping alone, we say a crib, but it can be a bassinet, pack and play, crib, any firm sleeping surface alone,” said Umstead. “So not bed sharing, bed sharing increases the risk of SIDS happening. A nice firm mattress that’s not elevated, no like bumpers, or loose blankets or stuffed animals. Anything soft that could be around the baby. Breastfeeding has shown to decrease the risk of SIDS, and also living in a smoke-free home has shown to decrease SIDS.”
According to the CDC, SIDS rates have declined considerably from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 38.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020.