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Known Risk Factors for SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Causes of Infant Death

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A baby sleeps on her back in a crib while her mother stands next to the crib and places her hand on the baby’s head. 

Research shows that several factors put babies at higher risk for SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed to sleep on their stomachs, such as for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS.

Babies are at higher risk for SIDS if they:

  • Sleep on their stomachs

  • Sleep on soft surfaces, such as an adult mattress, couch, or chair or under soft coverings

  • Sleep on or under soft or loose bedding

  • Get too hot during sleep

  • Are exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb or in their environment, such as at home, in the car, in the bedroom, or other areas

  • Sleep in an adult bed with parents, other children, or pets; this situation is especially dangerous if:
    • The adult smokes, has recently had alcohol, or is tired.

    • The baby is covered by a blanket or quilt.

    • The baby sleeps with more than one bed-sharer.

    • The baby is younger than 11 to 14 weeks of age.


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Last Reviewed: 10/29/2015