Sudden infant death syndrome is the most common cause of infant death between the ages of 1 week and 1 year of age and accounts for approximately 50 percent of the deaths of infants between the ages of 2 and 4 months. The unique age distribution and its relationship to sleep particularly characterize SIDS; however, there are other factors, such as maternal smoking, male sex, prematurity or low birth weight, which place an infant at higher risk of SIDS. Intrathoracic petechiae with characteristic microscopic topography are the most frequent pathologic finding. However, pulmonary congestive edema and minor microscopic inflammatory infiltrates are often seen.
There has been a dramatic decrease in the incidence of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the Republic of Ireland in the last decade from an average rate of 2.2/1000 live-births in the 1980s to 0.8/1000 live-births in the years 1993-1997, a decrease of 100 deaths a year. The fall in the SIDS rate has been seen in many countries and is felt to be associated with Reduce The Risks (RTR) of SIDS campaigns and the avoidance of the prone sleeping position. The use of the prone sleep position averaged at 6% of children being put prone in the years 1993-1997 but the prone position has progressively decreased from 13% of children being put prone in 1994 to only 2% in 1997. The profile of the Irish SIDS cases is similar to that of SIDS cases in other countries following similar RTR campaigns with a male predominance, the characteristic clustering of deaths in the first six months of life and the majority of cases (75%) occuring in the night sleep period.
Always put a baby to sleep on its back: (This includes naps.) Do NOT put a baby to sleep on its stomach. Also, a baby can roll onto the stomach from its side so this position should be avoided. Put babies on a firm surface (such as in the crib) tosleep: Never allow the baby to sleep in bed with other children or adults, and do NOT put them to sleep on other surfaces such as a sofa. Let babies sleep in the same room (NOT the same bed) as parents: If possible, babies' cribs should be placed in the parents' bedroom to allow for night-time feeding. Avoid soft bedding materials: Babies should be placed on a firm, tight-fitting crib mattress without loose bedding. Use a light sheet to cover the baby. Do not use pillows, comforters, or quilts. Make sure the room temperature is not too hot: The room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. A baby should not be hot to the touch. Ongoing Research is being done at Sudden Infant Death Syndrome centres.