UC San Diego Health Pediatrician Gives Life-Saving Tips during SIDS Awareness Month

October is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) awareness month. The syndrome is defined as an unexplained death of a child less than one year of age, usually occurring during sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 3,500 sleep-related deaths among babies in the United States each year.

Eustratia (Tia) Hubbard, MD, director of newborn services at UC San Diego Health, encourages parents, caregivers and health care providers to remember the ABCs of Sleep. Babies should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. Specific ways for parents to significantly decrease the risk of SIDS include:

  • Placing your infant on his or her back for all sleep times
  • Using a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib with only a fitted sheet — no loose or rolled blankets, pillows, positioners, bumper pads or soft toys
  • Keeping your baby in the same room as you (but in a separate bed) until the baby is at least six months old
  • Breastfeeding your baby
  • Not smoking or allow smoking around your baby

“Some causes of SIDS include overheating, strangulation and suffocation. Sharing a bed with someone, even a mother or twin, can increase the risk of these problems,” said Hubbard. “Placing babies on their sides or stomachs also increases the chances of SIDs. Parents and caregivers sometimes worry that if a baby spits up while laying on her back during sleep, she will aspirate. But babies have reflexes to protect their airway, including gagging, coughing and turning their heads to the side, so on the back is always best.”

Learn more at health.ucsd.edu/babysleep