As temperatures continue below freezing and snow blankets many parts of the country, parents of newborns need to know that babies are at a higher risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) during the winter. However, the number of SIDS deaths in the United States, including those in the winter, has been declining in the last few years as more and more parents are putting their healthy baby to sleep on his or her back and keeping the baby's room at a moderate temperature.
SIDS, sometimes called crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of an infant under one year of age. Most of these unpredictable deaths occur when a baby is between 1 and 4 months of age and more boys than girls are victims. SIDS strikes 4,000 to 5,000 babies each year in the United States.
The increased number of SIDS cases during the winter may be due to the greater risk of colds and other respiratory infections that babies may catch or to putting too many clothes or blankets on the baby. Parents should realize that a room that is comfortable for them is comfortable for their baby. Babies should never be put to sleep in a room that's too warm or with so many bed clothes that they become hot and sweaty.
The "Back to Sleep" public-private health education campaign, led by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development(NICHD), a component of the National Institutes of Health, has been successful in reaching many parents of new babies about the importance of back sleeping. Before the "Back to Sleep" campaign began in 1994, nearly 70% of babies were sleeping on their tummies. Now, only 30% of babies sleep on their tummies and the SIDS death rate dropped 30% between 1992 and 1995.
The NICHD has an easy-to-read brochure for parents, available in either English or Spanish, as well as crib stickers to remind parents to place their baby on his or her "Back to Sleep."
DiSCLAIMER: The content of this site is offered as educational material for parents, not as medical advice. If you have a question about a specific condition or symptom your child has then you need to consult a medical professional.