Pregnancy and reducing your baby's future risk of SIDS

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a devastating loss that cannot be predicted or prevented. But there are some steps you can take to help decrease the risk. The most important thing you can do is to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy.

  • See your doctor regularly. Women who have no prenatal care or who see a doctor only late in their pregnancies are more likely to have babies who die of SIDS.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Remember that your nutritional needs increase during pregnancy. If you are uncertain about your diet, talk with your doctor. A healthy diet can help prevent a premature baby or baby with a low birth weight. Premature and low-birth-weight babies are at greater risk for SIDS.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking during and after pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS. A recent study found that children of mothers who smoked had more than 3 times the risk of SIDS compared with children of nonsmokers.1 Also, the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. Alcohol or drug use may cause the baby to be born early (prematurely), which is a risk factor for SIDS. If you have an alcohol or drug problem, seek help. The sooner you stop drinking or using drugs, the better your chances are for having a healthy baby.

Citations

  1. Hunt CE, Hauck FR (2007). Sudden infant death syndrome. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 1736–1742. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Last Updated: September 15, 2008

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