A Few Myths and Facts About Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), while rare, is a concern that many expectant and new parents may have. It is unexpected and can happen to babies who are seemingly healthy. With any serious topic, awareness and education is critical. For this reason, we’d like to share a few common myths about SIDS and important facts for parents to have on hand.

Myth #1 – SIDS is completely preventable.

While SIDS is not completely preventable, there are definitely ways that parents can reduce risks. We’ll talk about these more throughout this post.

Myth #2 – SIDS is contagious.

Despite what you may hear, a baby cannot “catch” SIDS. At this time, the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, but we do know that it is not caused by an infection. Therefore, SIDS is not contagious.

Myth #3 – It is dangerous for babies to sleep on their backs.

Not true – in fact, it is just the opposite. It is more dangerous for babies to sleep on their stomachs. According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “the single most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to lower a baby’s risk of SIDS is to place the baby to sleep on his or her back for naps and at night.” They cite research evidence along with a decline in SIDS-related deaths since the launch of public health campaigns promoting back sleep positions. Also, during this time, there has been no increase in choking deaths of babies who sleep on their backs. The diagram below shows how and why the back-sleep position is best for babies to clear fluids.*Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Myth #3 – SIDS is caused by immunizations, medications and vaccinations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been multiple studies conducted looking for any possible links between immunization and SIDS. Results and continued monitoring have found that vaccines do not cause SIDS. As a result, we recommend parents bring their babies to see their pediatrician regularly and receive their shots on time, as directed.

Myth #4 – Cribs cause SIDS.

“Crib death” is often-used informal term for SIDS. However, cribs do not directly cause SIDS. It is important to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. If you’re wondering what that looks like, take a look at this great image below from the NICHD.*

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

If you want to make sure that your bassinet, crib, play yard or portable crib meets the recommended Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards, you can visit their website.

Myth #5 – Sharing a bed with your baby can prevent SIDS from happening.

SIDS is not the same as suffocation and is not caused by suffocation, but placing a baby in bed with other children or adults can put the baby at risk for suffocation or other sleep-related deaths. While bed sharing is not recommended, the latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasize room-sharing. Placing a crib or bassinet next to the parents’ bed is encouraged for the baby’s first six to twelve months. This positions the baby within the parents’ view and reach can help with monitoring and comforting throughout the night.

Myth #6 – Home apnea monitors give protection from SIDS.

According to the AAP, “home apnea monitors track the breathing and heart rate of sleeping babies. An alarm goes off if a baby’s breathing stops briefly (apnea) or if the heart rate is unusually slow.” There is no research that links sleep apnea and SIDS. In fact, this could cause unneeded worry. Speak with your doctor to see if he or she recommends a hope apnea monitor for your baby.

At Burdett Birth Center, we support the AAP’s recommendations and encourage their use as parents take their newborns home. Speak with your Burdett Care Center nurses, midwife, or pediatrician before leaving the hospital to be sure you have the latest advice for newborn sleeping safety, and follow up with them with any questions or concerns.

*Images courtesy of the Safe to Sleep® campaign, for educational purposes only; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,; Safe to Sleep® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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