Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Safe Sleep Can Prevent SIDS Deaths

Most SIDS Infants Had Sleep-Related Risk Factors, Study Finds
WebMD Health News

March 26, 2012 -- There's more to cutting the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than putting babies to sleep on their backs.

The public health campaign “Back to Sleep,” geared toward putting infants to sleep on their backs, helped reduce the rate of SIDS by more than 50%.

But now, a new study published in Pediatrics also shows that SIDS rates have stabilized in recent years, so there's more work to be done. There are about 2,500 SIDS deaths per year in the U.S.

In the new study, "the vast majority" of the babies who died from SIDS still had a sleep-related risk factor, "so just following the [American Academy of Pediatrics] guidelines for infant sleeping could have a dramatic impact on deaths,” says researcher Henry F. Krous, MD, who directs the San Diego Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Research Project at Rady Children’s Hospital.

Those guidelines:

  • Always put babies to sleep on their backs -- not on their stomachs or sides.
  • Cribs should have a tightly fitted mattress and no other bedding (no pillows, blankets, bumper pads, or soft toys).
  • Avoid over-bundling or covering the infant’s head.
  • Don't share your bed with your baby. Infants should not sleep on adult mattresses.

“The impetus for bed sharing is usually to make nighttime nursing easier, but there are cribs available that are placed right next to the bed to allow proximity without the risk,” Krous says.

The researchers conclude that while these risk factors do not cause SIDS by themselves, avoiding them can keep vulnerable babies alive.

Babies, Sleep, and SIDS

About 90% of SIDS deaths occur between the second and sixth months of life, Krous explains.

Certain babies are at higher risk, including boys, premature babies, infants exposed to cigarettes or alcohol while in the womb, or having a certain genetic condition related to their brain chemistry.

In the San Diego study, as the percentage of SIDS deaths related to sleep position dropped, bed-sharing deaths accounted for a greater percentage of SIDS deaths.

The combination of risk factors may matter. More than half (57%) of the babies who died of SIDS in the San Diego study had at least three risk factors.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow