Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old.
Physical factors associated with SIDS include:
• Brain abnormalities. Some infants are born with problems that make them more likely to die of SIDS. In many of these babies, the portion of the brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep doesn’t work properly.
• Low birth weight. Premature birth or being part of a multiple birth increases the likelihood that a baby’s brain hasn’t matured completely, so he or she has less control over such automatic processes as breathing and heart rate.
• Respiratory infection. Many infants who died of SIDS recently had a cold, which may contribute to breathing problems.
During pregnancy, the risk of SIDS is also affected by the mother, especially if she:
1. Is younger than 20.
2. Smokes cigarettes.
3. Uses drugs or alcohol.
4. Has inadequate prenatal care.
*Information courtesy of MayoClinic.