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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Resources

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants one month to one year of age, taking the lives of about 2,500 children each year in the United States. An additional 3,500 infants die each year from other causes of sudden and unexpected infant death (SUID), such as suffocation.

Children’s National Hospital has a team of researchers, doctors and staff committed to learning more about SIDS and educating parents, families and childcare providers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Facts about SIDS

  • More boy babies die from SIDS than girls.
  • African American babies have a 2-3 times greater risk of dying from SIDS than Caucasian babies.
  • Back sleeping is the safest sleep position for infants under 1 year of age.
  • About 75 percent of babies who die suddenly and unexpectedly die while they are sleeping in the same place (couch, armchair or bed) as another person.
  • SIDS is not the same as suffocation, but both can happen when the baby is asleep.
  • In the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, infant mortality rate is 15 deaths per 1,000 live births (twice the national rate of 7.1)
  • In the region, SIDS rate is also double the national rate (approximately 120 per 100,000 live births each year)

Tips for Reducing the Risk of SIDS


  • Babies should always sleep on their backs at night time and nap time.
  • Babies shouldn’t sleep on their side. They may roll to face down position.


  • Every baby should sleep in his/her own crib.
  • Place baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib.
  • Remove all fluffy and loose bedding from the sleep area. The only thing that should be in the crib is the baby.
  • Make sure baby’s head and face stay uncovered during sleep.
  • Use blanket sleepers instead of blankets during colder months.

Room sharing

  • Babies from birth to age 6 months should sleep in the same room with their parents.
  • Babies should not sleep on the same sleep surface with their parents.
  • Bring the baby into your bed for cuddling and feeding, but return the baby to his/her crib when you are ready to go back to sleep.

Other tips

  • Don’t let baby get too warm during sleep. A general rule is that babies need one more layer than you do.
  • Use pacifiers at nap time and bedtime during the first year, but not during the first month for breast-fed babies.
  • Breastfeeding is best!
  • Make sure your baby gets all the recommended vaccinations.
Learn about tips to reduce your baby's the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS Research and Education

Education is provided in small group sessions to low-income families, adolescent parents and child care providers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The project works collaboratively with governmental and non-governmental agencies, including the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, the Early Care and Education Administration, Department of Human Services, Washington, D.C., (the licensing agency for child care providers) and the District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools. The project’s educational interventions have been evaluated and found to be effective in improving knowledge and changing behavior with regard to SIDS and SUID risks.

The project also actively conducts clinical research pertaining to SIDS and SIDS risk factors in high-risk populations. The team has performed studies on:

  • determinants of sleep position in urban populations
  • physician beliefs and practices
  • SIDS and SIDS risk factors in infants attending child care
  • SIDS-relevant regulations in child care
  • sleep position and motor development
  • the effectiveness of educational interventions among low-income families and child care providers

Our current research projects include a mixed-model study (using quantitative and qualitative techniques) investigating influences that affect parental decisions about their infant's sleep, an evaluation of the impact of a national crib distribution program on infant mortality, and a secondary data analysis investigating the interplay between bed-sharing and other risk factors for SIDS in African-American infants.