The following steps may help prevent SIDS:
• Early prenatal care and nutrition lowers the chance of babies born prematurely; prematurity is a risk factor for SIDs.
• Do not smoke or use illicit drugs while pregnant.
• Always place babies on their backs when laying them down to sleep.
• Use a firm crib mattress, and do not place bumper pads, covers, blankets, pillows, sleep positioners or toys in the crib.
• Have the baby sleep in your room until 6 months old. Never sleep with your baby in a bed, couch or chair.
• Keep the baby from over-heating by not overdressing him or her. Keep the room temperature between 70-72 degrees.
• Keep the baby away from second-hand smoke. Don't allow smoking in the home or car.
• Breastfeed the infant if possible.
• Give the baby a pacifier. It's thought to reduce the risk of SIDS.
"No one understands that," Dr. John Volinsky said of pacifier use and SIDS.
Sources: Dr. John Volinsky, of Winchester Pediatrics and American SIDS Institute
Some risk factors for SIDS have been identified:
• More boys than girls die of SIDS.
• It's most likely to occur between 2 and 3 months of age.
• It's more prevalent among black, American Indian and Eskimo babies.
• A sibling or cousin who has died of SIDS.
• The mother is 19 or younger.
• The mother smoked while pregnant, or used drugs or alcohol, or didn't receive proper prenatal care.
• Low birth weight.
• Respiratory infections.
• Sleeping on anything but the back.
• Sleeping on soft surfaces, such as a thick comforter or waterbed, or having a blanket over the head.
• Sleeping in bed with an adult.
• Exposure to smoking.
• Pregnancies spaced closely together.
Source: Mayo Clinic and American SIDS Institute