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Risk factors

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Risk factors include:

  • prematurity and need for special care at birth
  • putting the baby to sleep prone or on its side; the latter has a risk midway between sleeping prone and supine
  • overheating
  • head covering
    • head covering is a major modifiable risk factor associated with SIDS deaths and parental advice to avoid this situation should be emphasised (1)
  • parental smoking. Over 60% of cases may be attributable to the effects of exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking is relevant:
    • perinatally:
      • by the mother; the more the mother smokes, the greater the risk to the infant of SIDS
      • by other household members; exposure of the pregnant mother to smoke increases the risk of SIDS
    • postnatally - by the mother or other household members
  • poor socioeconomic circumstances
  • previous SIDS in the family
  • multiple birth
  • cold weather


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