October is SIDS Awareness Month. Learn more about the problem and the risk factors and take action to reduce the risk. Start by always placing babies on their backs to sleep.

Defining the Problem

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID): The death of an infant, less than 1 year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. After a case investigation, these deaths may be diagnosed as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, infection, ingestions, metabolic diseases, cardiac arrhythmias, trauma (accidental or non-accidental), or SIDS. In some cases where the evidence is not clear, or not enough information is available, the death is considered to be from an undetermined cause.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. SIDS is a type of SUID.

Safe to Sleep

CDC is collaborating with the National Institutes of Health in its new Safe to Sleep campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep Campaign. The Safe to Sleep Campaignhas new outreach and education activities aimed at reducing infant death risk from SIDS and other sleep-related sudden unexpected infant deaths.

Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB) also is a type of sleep-related SUID. This includes infant deaths related to airway obstruction (asphyxia) in a sleeping environment caused by—

  1. Suffocation by soft bedding—such as a pillow or waterbed mattress.
  2. Overlay—another person overlaying or rolling on top of or against the infant.
  3. Wedging or entrapment—wedging between two objects such as a mattress and wall, bed frame, or furniture.
  4. Strangulation—such as when an infant’s head and neck become caught between crib railings.