Objective. By definition, there is no known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).1 The best information currently available comes from studies investigating infant sleep habits. Thus far, researchers agree that in regards to sleep, infants are safest, and at lowest risk for SIDS, when sleeping in a supine rather than prone or lateral position, when sleeping on hard, rather than soft, bedding with no pillows or blankets, and when sleeping in a crib rather than sharing a bed with a parent.1–4 In an effort to better understand what additional factors might predispose an infant to dying of SIDS, this project investigates the potential physiologic risk factors of age, birth weight, gestational age at birth, and the month of pregnancy during which prenatal care was initiated. Methods. This study is a descriptive analysis using data from the CDC. I collected data from the Linked Birth/Infant Death Records subset of the CDC WONDER public use database for statistical analysis. I analyzed the data with descriptive statistics, with z-scores assigned to each category within each of the four potential risk factors.
Results. Results indicate that with regards to age, the rate of death from SIDS was greatest in infants between one month and one year of age, as opposed to younger than one month of age. Limited data prevents a further breakdown of that eleven-month span. Infants with low birth weights (specifically 1000 – 1499 or 1500 – 1999 grams) had greater death rates than infants with higher birth weights. In regard to gestational age, infants born preterm (prior to 34 weeks’ gestation) had greater death rates than infants born at or post term or late preterm. Lastly, infants born to mothers who had no prenatal care or only received prenatal care post term, in the tenth month of pregnancy, experienced greater death rates than other infants. Thankfully, SIDS is relatively rare, and data is limited regarding instances of SIDS. As such, statistical significance to these increased death rates cannot be confidently assessed. However, parents of infants experiencing one or more of these potential risk factors may be more strongly advised to follow existing guidelines regarding infant sleep habits and safe environmental procedures.
Hoy, E. (2021). Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A CDC WONDER Analysis. Wright State University. Dayton, Ohio.