What are other risk factors?

Although sleep position, smoke exposure, overheating, and infant bedding have been identified as risk factors for SIDS, researchers have identified a number of other factors that may put an infant at increased risk for SIDS.

Infant Care Practices and SIDS Risk Reduction

Several studies have examined various environmental influences or child-rearing practices that may help protect an infant from SIDS (Valdes-Dapena, 1995; Hoffman et al., 1996; NICHD, 2000). It is important to point out, however, that these factors, in and of themselves, are not reliable in predicting how, when, why, or if SIDS will occur.

For example, although researchers conclude that breastfeeding is beneficial, there is no clear-cut link between breastfeeding and reduced risk of SIDS. Other studies have found a lower rate of SIDS among infants who used pacifiers compared with infants who did not use pacifiers. Although results of these studies tend to be consistent, there is still no evidence that pacifier use prevents SIDS(AAP, 2000).

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Maternal Risk Factors

Still other risk factors, called maternal risk factors, are associated with how the mother's behavior and health affect the infant before and after birth.

Maternal risk factors include:

  • age less than 20 at first pregnancy
  • a short interval between pregnancies
  • late or no prenatal care
  • smoking during and/or after pregnancy
  • placental abnormalities
  • low weight gain during pregnancy
  • anemia
  • alcohol and substance abuse
  • history of sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection

    (NICHD, 2001).