Family Health Guide

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SIDS: Diagnosis

You’d think spotting SIDS would be fairly straightforward, but it’s not. It’s very hard to know exactly how and why babies succumb, or why the highest rates occur in infants between 2 and 4 months old. The condition can be diagnosed only when a death has been carefully investigated—including an autopsy, a study of the scene and circumstances of death, and an examination of the baby's medical history—so that all other possibilities can be ruled out. And even then, it can be a challenge. For instance, when a baby is found lying on her tummy—or in a bed where adults slept, or a crib full of soft toys—the coroner can't rule out the possibility that the baby was accidentally smothered.