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. A retrospective epidemiological study was carried out using all deaths of resident infants occurring up to 1 year of age as recorded by the health districts mortality registries of the Lombardy region, between 1990 and 2000. The infant mortality rate was 4.1 per 1000 live births, with a significant decreasing trend. This decrease is mainly due to the fall in mortality for congenital malformations and perinatal diseases. The SIDS incidence rate was 0.13 per 1000 live births; the annual incidence of SIDS during the study period decreased significantly by 60% from 0.20 to 0.08 deaths per 1000 live births (P = 0.001). 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) to sleep: 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.