What is Meant by Risk Factors?
- Risk factors by themselves do not cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but can have a negative effect on infant well-being. In fact, as many as two thirds of SIDS victims have no known risk factors, and, most babies with one or more of these risk factors will not become SIDS victims.
- Therefore, while doctors are hopeful that following the recommendations we have described may reduce the risk of SIDS, we must understand that following the recommendations faithfully will still not prevent all SIDS deaths. Research must continue if we are to discover how and why SIDS occurs, and expand upon these and other risk factors.
The recommendations outlined here were developed to reduce the risk of SIDS in the general population. As it is defined by epidemiologists, risk refers to the probability that an outcome will occur given the presence of a particular factor or set of factors. Scientifically identified associations between risk factors (eg, socioeconomic characteristics, behaviors, or environmental exposures) and outcomes such as SIDS do not necessarily denote causality. Furthermore, the best current working model of SIDS suggests that more than 1 scenario of preexisting conditions and initiating events may lead to SIDS. Therefore, when considering the recommendations in this report, it is fundamentally misguided to focus on a single risk factor or to attempt to quantify risk for an individual infant. Individual medical conditions may warrant a physician to recommend otherwise after weighing the relative risks and benefits.