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What Parents Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death

For a parent, there is nothing more shocking, upsetting, and earth-shattering than the death of a child. Tragically, for parents every year in the United States, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) take thousands of lives. To be sure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in 2015 alone, there were about 1,600 babies who died from SIDS, with the syndrome being the leading cause of death for infants between one and 12 months old.

In Philadelphia, the problem is no less pressing. In fact, a recent report from the Philadelphia Department of Health shows that while the number of SIDS-related deaths has declined, an average of three babies continue to die every month (read more at, a rate that is 75 percent higher than the national average. If you are a new parent, consider the following important information about SIDS and what you can do–

Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death

According to the article cited above, the risk factors for sudden infant death include:

    • Age – 90 percent of sudden infant deaths in Philadelphia occur before the child has reached six months;


  • Race – Amongst black and Latino families, the rate of sudden infant death is especially high, with deaths nearly three times more likely in black families, and nearly two times more likely in Latino families; and
  • Income – Of all of the risk factors, the greatest predictor of sudden infant death is income. Children in low-income families are five times as likely to die from sudden infant death.


How to Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

One of the most terrible things about SIDS is that in many cases, the cause is truly unknown, and death appears to occur for no apparent reason. However, in many cases, death may have been preventable had the baby been placed in a safer position or location. Consider, for example, that more than ⅔ of SIDS cases in Philadelphia that were reviewed occurred as the result of a child being placed in an unsafe location. The unsafe location was usually an adult bed, where other people, blankets, sheets, and pillows increase the risk of suffocation. Another factor that appears to contribute to SIDS is the positioning of the baby; those children who are placed on their stomach or their sides have an increased risk of SIDS.

If you are a new parent, it is important that you understand safe sleep practices for your baby. These include:

  • Think twice about bed-sharing. Most experts agree that the safest place for a baby is a crib or a baby box. If you want your child near you, you can put your baby box right next to your bed.
  • Keep blankets, pillows, and clutter out of your baby’s sleep space. These items increase the risk of the baby being smothered and suffocating. If you have any pets in the home, make sure that your baby sleeps in an area that is not accessible to pets. Cats, for example, could assume that the sleep box is for them, lying on the baby with tragic results.
  • Put your baby to sleep on their back. Infants should always be placed on their backs to sleep, without exception.

Contact Our Law Firm Today if You Have Questions About Your Legal Rights after Losing a Child

Not all child deaths are caused by the negligence of a parent – in some cases, medical malpractice, defective products, or the negligent actions of others (like a babysitter) can lead to child harm. If you have lost a child, our attorneys offer you our deepest condolences, and promise to advocate for you as you navigate the claims process. For a free consultation, please reach out to our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys today.

Contact us for your consultation (215) 567-3500

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