Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is marked by the sudden death of an infant that is unexpected by medical history, and remains unexplained after a thorough forensic autopsy and a detailed death scene investigation. An infant is at the highest risk for SIDS during sleep, which is why it is sometimes referred to by the terms cot death or crib death. The cause of SIDS is unknown, but some characteristics associated with the syndrome have been identified. The unique signature characteristic of SIDS is its lognormal age distribution that spares infants shortly after birth, the time of maximal risk for almost all other causes of non-trauma infant death. Other non-unique characteristics are its ~50% male excess and the fact that the caregivers were unaware in the preceeding 24-hours that the infant was at risk of imminent sudden death. There are many risk factors and medical causal relationships proposed for SIDS. Infants sleeping prone or exposed to tobacco smoke are at greater risk than infants sleeping supine or unexposed to tobacco smoke, respectively. Infanticide and child abuse cases may be misdiagnosed as SIDS due to lack of evidence. Accidental suffocations are sometimes misdiagnosed as SIDS.[citation needed] Genetics play a role, as SIDS is more prevalent in males. Safe sleep environments that reduce the risk of SIDS include proper ventilation, and putting infants on their back to sleep. Pacifiers and tummy time can help reduce known risk factors.

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