Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death or crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age. Diagnosis requires that the death remains unexplained even after a thorough autopsy and detailed death scene investigation. SIDS usually occurs during sleep. Typically death occurs between the hours of 00:00 and 09:00. There is usually no evidence of struggle and no noise produced.
The exact cause of SIDS is unknown. The requirement of a combination of factors including a specific underlying susceptibility, a specific time in development, and an environmental stressor has been proposed. These environmental stressors may include sleeping on the stomach or side, overheating, and exposure to tobacco smoke. Accidental suffocation such as during bed sharingor from soft objects may also play a role. Another risk factor is being born before 39 weeks of gestation. SIDS makes up about 80% of sudden and unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs), with other causes including infections, genetic disorders, and heart problems. While child abuse in the form of intentional suffocation may be misdiagnosed as SIDS, this is believed to make up less than 5% of cases.
The most effective method of preventing SIDS is putting a child less than one year old on their back to sleep. Other measures include a firm mattress separate from but close to caregivers, no loose bedding, a relatively cool sleeping environment, using apacifier, and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke. Breastfeeding and immunization may also be preventive. Measures not shown to be useful include positioning devices and baby monitors. Evidence is not sufficient for the use of fans. Grief support for families impacted by SIDS is important, as the death of the infant is sudden, without witnesses, and often associated with an investigation.
Rates of SIDS vary nearly tenfold in developed countries from one in a thousand to one in ten thousand. Globally it resulted in about 15,000 deaths in 2013 down from 22,000 deaths in 1990. SIDS was the third leading cause of death in children less than one year old in the United States in 2011. It is the most common cause of death between one month and one year of age. About 90% of cases happen before six months of age, with it being most frequent between two months and four months of age. It is more common in boys than girls.
We researched this topic for you and found the following best online resources. They are categorized into basic, advanced, and research level based on the extent of information you need. You will be taken to the respective websites by pressing on the links below.
http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/182/5/379 sudden infant death syndrome and psychiatric disorders by louise michele howard, simon hannam the british journal of psychiatry may 2003, 182 (5) 379-380; doi: 10.1192/bjp.182.5.379
http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v56/n3/full/pr2004223a.htmlpediatric research (2004) 56, 391–395; doi:10.1203/01.pdr.0000136285.91048.4a sudden infant death syndrome: case-control frequency differences at genes pertinent to early autonomic nervous system embryologic development by debra e weese-mayer et al.,