Join Atrium Health Navicent in Observing National SIDS Awareness Month

October 11, 2021

Health system seeks to educate the community about SIDS and how to reduce SIDS risk


Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital invites the community to observe National SIDS Awareness Month during October by learning about how SIDS risk can be reduced.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a child less than 1 year old that remains unexplained after a complete investigation. These deaths often occur during sleep, or in the baby’s sleep area. SIDS is one type of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), which also includes suffocation, entrapment, trauma, and cardiac arrhythmias.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3,400 babies in the United States die each year from SUID. Of these, more than 1 in 3 are attributable to SIDS.

In Georgia, for every 100,000 births, 127.2 infants die from sudden unexpected events including SIDS. That figure is well above the US average of 90.1.

According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.

Although the cause of SIDS is unknown, there are ways to reduce your infant’s risk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of the following decrease the risk of SIDS:

  • Infants should be placed on their backs to sleep until they reach 1 year of age. Side sleeping is not advised.
  • Babies should be placed on a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress covered by a fitted sheet. No other soft objects should be placed near the infant, to reduce risk of suffocation. It is recommended that infants sleep in their parents’ bedroom, on a separate sleep surface, at least for the first six months, but ideally for the first year.
  • Mothers should not smoke during pregnancy or after a baby’s birth. Parents are encouraged to set strict rules about smoke-free homes and cars to eliminate second-hand smoke exposure to infants. In addition, mothers should not use alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women should follow their doctor’s guidelines for frequency of prenatal visits. Babies whose mothers obtained regular prenatal care are at a lower risk for SIDS.
  • Recent evidence suggests that vaccines may protect against SIDS. Infants should regularly receive well-baby checkups and should get their shots on time as recommended by their doctor.

SIDS cases have declined in the last 30 years, following the release of The American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations in 1992. Despite that decrease, “the risk of death from SIDS in the first year of life is still 20 times higher than the risk of death during any of the next 17 years,” said Dr. Christy Peterson, a pediatrician at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. “All of the following decrease the risk of SIDS: non-prone sleeping, safe sleep practices, routine vaccines, prenatal care for the mother, and the absence of a smoking history in the mother.” 

Premature infants also face an increased risk of SUID, but parents and guardians can take steps to reduce risk.

“Studies have shown that following the same principles of back to sleep, breastfeeding, avoidance of tobacco and other recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics play a role in protecting preterm infants as well,” said Dr. Mitch Rodriguez, a neonatologist and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and business development officer for Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital.


To find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, and to learn about our children’s services, visit

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit