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Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year of age. It usually occurs in a previously healthy infant, and the cause of death remains unexplained despite a thorough case investigation, including a complete autopsy, death scene investigation, and review of the clinical history.

Every year in the United States, approximately 2,500 infants die from SIDS. Risk factors have been identified through epidemiologic studies. SIDS is more likely to occur in male infants (3:2 ratio). Other risk factors include prone and side sleeping positions, maternal smoking during pregnancy, environmental tobacco smoke, overheating, soft bedding, inadequate prenatal care, young maternal age, prematurity or low birthweight, and African-American or American Indian/Alaskan Native heritage.

For many years, apnea was believed to be the predecessor of SIDS, and home apnea monitors have been used in...

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