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Sometimes a baby who seems healthy dies during sleep. If this happens to a healthy baby younger than 1 year old, it's called sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
In most cases, a parent or caregiver places the baby down to sleep and returns later to find the baby has died. It's no one's fault. SIDS can happen even when you do everything right.
Doctors don't know what causes SIDS, but researchers are studying the possibility that SIDS may be caused by problems with how well the brain controls breathing, heart rate and rhythm, and temperature during the first few months of life.
There are some factors that may increase the risk of SIDS.
If during pregnancy, the mother:
If the baby is:
SIDS has no symptoms or warning signs. Babies who die of SIDS seem healthy before being put to bed. They show no signs of struggle and are often found in the same position as when they were placed in the bed.
SIDS is named the cause of death only when no other cause is found. To find out why a baby died, medical experts review the baby's and parents' medical histories, study the area where the baby died, and do an autopsy.
There is no sure way to prevent SIDS. But there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS and other deaths related to sleep.
For more information about SIDS, visit Safe Sleep for Baby's First Year.
Each member of your family may respond to the loss of the baby in a different way. These different ways of coping with the baby's death can strain a marriage and a family. Along with feeling grief, family members may be struggling with feelings of guilt. Support from family, friends, your doctor, and possibly other health professionals is very important for everyone. You might find it helpful to:
Adaptation Date: 8/3/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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