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General SIDS Information


Nationally and locally, parents/caregivers have conveyed several reasons for not adhering to the infant safe sleep guidelines recommended by American Academy of Pediatricians, SIDS of Pennsylvania, and the Allegheny County Health Department Perinatal Periods of Risk Team.


Reasons for not following infant safe sleep guidelines include:

  • Comfort
  • Safety
  • Prior experience with other children
  • Advice from close family members (particularly female)
  • Convenience
  • Lack of space for a crib
  • Lack of money to secure a crib
  • Lack of information or knowledge
  • Negative, non-empathetic or condescending attitude of health professional
  • Information presented in a non-competent culturally inappropriate manner

Health professionals are encouraged to listen to the parent/caregiver’s understanding regarding infant safe sleep and provide guidance in a sensitive and culturally appropriate manner. The following toolkit was developed to help guide nurses or other health care professionals to provide information about infant safe sleep in a sensitive and culturally appropriate way.

SIDS IS NOT:

  • Caused by vomiting and choking, or minor illnesses such as colds or infections
  • Caused by diptheria, pertussis, tetanus (DTP) vaccines, or other immunizations
  • Contagious
  • Hereditary
  • Child abuse
  • The cause of every unexpected infant death

SIDS IS:

  • The major cause of death in infants from 1 month to 1 year of age, with most deaths occurring between 2 and 4 months
  • Sudden and silent—the victim was seemingly healthy
  • Currently, unpredictable and unpreventable
  • A death that occurs quickly, with no signs of suffering, and is usually associated with sleep
  • A syndrome the first symptom of which is death
  • Determined only after an autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the case history
  • A post-mortem diagnosis established by exclusion
  • A recognized medical disorder listed in the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision (ICD-9)
  • An infant death that leaves unanswered questions and, thus, causes intense grief for parents and families