Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden death of an infant who is less than one year of age that is unexpected and cannot be explained after a thorough case investigation. October is designated as a time to raise awareness about SIDS.

In California, 2011 data shows that SIDS is the second leading cause of death for infants between 28 days of age to less than one year. Despite years of research, the exact cause(s) of SIDS remain unknown.

To reduce the sudden unexpected death in infancy, “Back to Sleep” campaigns have been initiated to educate parents, caregivers and the public about placing babies to sleep on their backs. Other messages to reduce the risk of sudden infant death include putting babies on firm sleep surface, never smoking around a baby, not letting a baby overheat during sleep and keeping soft objects out of a baby’s sleep area. Prenatal care, breastfeeding, immunizations and regular well-child checks are also important preventive measures. These messages have helped reduce the incidence of SIDS.

Locally, there is a Child Death Review Team that reviews child deaths to identify possible contributors to the cause of death. The inter-disciplinary Child Death Review Team brings law enforcement, medical, and community stakeholders together to review individual deaths with the goal of preventing future deaths.

Whenever a child dies it is always a tragedy. The Public Health Department Maternal, Child, Adolescent Health Program has Public Health Nurses who make home visits with families who have experienced loss to provide bereavement support and link them with local resources.

The messages contained in the following link have helped reduce the incidence of SIDS:


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