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Safe Sleep Environments
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Reducing the Risk

In the United States, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the major cause of death in infants from one month to one year of age. SIDS happens to families of all social, ethnic and economic groups. Most SIDS deaths occur when babies are between two and four months of age. African American babies are more than two times as likely to die of SIDS as white babies. Although a great deal of research is underway, the cause(s) of SIDS remains unknown. We know that SIDS is not suffocation, contagious or hereditary; it is not caused by cribs, immunizations, vomiting or choking.

Currently there is no known way to prevent SIDS. But after many years of research, we do know that babies sleep safer when placed on their back on a firm surface. Since the early 1990's when the United States initiated the Back to Sleep Campaign the number of SIDS deaths has dropped by over 50 percent. However, in recent years, other causes of sleep-related infant deaths including suffocation, asphyxia and entrapment have increased. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is a term used to describe any sudden and unexpected death, whether explained or unexplained that happens during the first twelve months of life. Based on recent research studies, we know that many of the risk factors for SIDS are similar to those for other sudden unexpected infant deaths. The 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations have been expanded to focus on safe sleep environments that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS. Infant care practices outlined in the expanded recommendations include placing infants to sleep on their back on a firm sleep surface, breastfeeding, room-sharing without bed-sharing, routinely immunizing infants, using a pacifier and avoiding tobacco smoke and overheating.

In this section of our website you will find practical tips on how to lower an infant's risk of dying from SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. Information is provided on what parents, caregivers and health professionals can do to promote a safe sleep environment. We encourage you to explore the many resources available, discover an array of risk reduction/safe sleep materials, learn more about the Safe to Sleep Campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep Campaign) and find answers to your questions.

  • Safe Sleep Environments for Infants: Learn ways that you and others who care for a baby can reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths and keep baby safe while sleeping.
  • Safe to Sleep Campaign: Read more about this public health effort to heighten awareness about SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by spreading consistent evidenced based messages about safe infant sleep to all communities.
  • SIDS Facts: View the most current statistical data to see how California compares to the nation in the number and rate of SIDS deaths.
  • Risk Reduction Resources: Access an array of educational and informational publications, booklets, handouts, articles, videos and curricula on back to sleep and other SIDS risk reduction/safe sleep measures.
  • Community Events and Projects: Discover local community based activities aimed at promoting safe sleep and reducing SIDS.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Find answers to questions about safe sleep practices, ways to reduce SIDS during pregnancy and after a baby is born and what to do so baby sleeps better and safer.

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