Sleep-related causes of infant death are those linked to how or where a baby sleeps or slept. These deaths are due to accidental causes, such as suffocation, entrapment, or strangulation. Entrapment is when the baby gets trapped between two objects, such as a mattress and a wall, and cannot breathe. Strangulation is when something presses on or wraps around the baby’s neck, blocking the baby’s airway. These deaths are considered Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).
SUID is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the baby’s sleep area.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is one type of SUID. SIDS is the sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year of age that cannot be explained even after a full investigation that includes a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history.
In Santa Clara County, most infant deaths were identified within an unsafe sleep environment and not considered a SIDS event.
Infant deaths due to unsafe sleeping practices can be prevented. Every parent and caregiver needs to be aware of and follow these SAFE sleeping guidelines:
- Babies need to sleep alone in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress and a well-fitted sheet.
- Babies should be put to sleep on their backs during naps and at nighttime.
- Babies should not be placed on their sides to sleep because they may accidentally roll onto their stomachs and suffocate.
- Babies should not sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, cushions, or nursing pillows.