Yes, but it is a positive link! Vaccines provide protection against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics recently expanded their guidelines for infant sleep safety and SIDS risk reduction. Infants should be immunized, as evidence suggests that vaccination reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent.
Babies receive many vaccines to protect them when they are between 2 to 4 months old, when they are most susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. This age range is also the peak age for SIDS. The timing of the 2-month and 4-month shots and SIDS has led some people to question whether they might be related.
Multiple research studies have been conducted seeking possible links between vaccines and SIDS. Results from these studies and continued monitoring show that vaccines do not cause SIDS. Studies include:
- A study looked at the ages and seasons of infant deaths after vaccinations reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This study examined VAERS reports following tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and hepatitis B vaccinations found no link between SIDS and these vaccines.
- A 2003 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report “Immunization Safety Review: Vaccination and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy.” The committee reviewed scientific evidence focusing on sudden unexpected death in infancy and looked for possible relationships between SIDS and vaccines. Based on all the research findings they reviewed, the committee concluded that vaccines did not cause SIDS.
- Additional work on defining SIDS and reviewing the literature by the Brighton Collaboration, an international network of vaccine safety experts.
- As a result of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 1992 recommendation to place healthy babies on their backs to sleep, and the success of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Back to Sleep campaign in 1994, SIDS deaths have declined considerably.