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WHAT: Sudden infant death syndrome, also called crib death, is the unexplained death of a healthy infant. It's the leading cause of fatality in babies 1 month to 1 year old, affecting 2,500 a year.

WHO: Boys are slightly more likely to die of SIDS.

WHEN: Most deaths occur between 2 and 4 months of age.

HOW: 48 percent of deaths are attributable to baby's sleeping on his front or side, according to a recent study; 16 percent of cases were linked to co-sleeping (if the mother smoked or drank).

WHY: No one really knows. But studies show that putting your baby to sleep on his stomach raises the probability that he'll rebreathe his own expired gas, causing suffocation. Overheating is also a possible factor.

PREVENTION: Always put baby to sleep on his back. Never put him to bed on a sofa or waterbed. Keep pillows, comforters, and stuffed animals out of the crib. Never smoke or drink when co-sleeping. Don't overdress baby for bed, and make sure his head remains uncovered.


Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2004.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.