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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher October 28, 2021

Vaccines do not cause sudden infant death syndrome

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  • No evidence has established that vaccines cause SIDS.

A viral image doesn’t mention COVID-19, but it falsely implies that vaccines cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The image states: "79.4% of babies who die of ‘SIDS’ had a vaccine the same day."

The claim, shared in an Oct. 26 Instagram post, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There is no evidence that vaccines cause babies to die from SIDS — the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy baby younger than 1 year, usually during sleep. 

The cause of SIDS is unknown. But it appears SIDS might be associated with defects in the portion of an infant's brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep, though other factors such as low birth weight and sleeping on the stomach or side, can also make an infant more vulnerable, according to Mayo Clinic. 

The statistic cited in the image could be incorrectly quoting a finding from a 2015 study done by researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that examined deaths reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. VAERS  is run by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration. 

For reports in the database of the deaths of children up to age 17, 79.4% received more than one vaccine on the same day; and among infants, 86.2% received more than one vaccine on the same day. 

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So, the study said the vast majority of infant deaths occurred among infants who received more than one vaccination on the same day. But receiving more than one vaccine on the same day is common for infants. And the study did not say that the infants died on the same day as the vaccination. 

Moreover, the study said: "Because SIDS peaks at a time when children are receiving many recommended vaccinations, it would not be unexpected to observe a coincidental close temporal relationship between vaccination and SIDS."

The CDC says currently:

"Babies receive multiple vaccines when they are between 2 to 4 months old. 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. However, studies have found that vaccines do not cause and are not linked to SIDS."

We rated False a claim made in June that SIDS "is absolutely a side effect of vaccination." 

We cited the lack of any evidence that vaccines cause SIDS, and noted that studies actually show that receiving recommended immunizations can lower an infant’s risk of SIDS.

We rate the viral image False.

Our Sources

Instagram, post, Oct. 26, 2021

Vaxopedia, "Did 79.4% of the Reported Child Deaths to VAERS Get a Vaccine on the Day They Died?", Feb. 6, 2019

Clinical Infectious Diseases, "Deaths Reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, United States, 1997–2013," May 28, 2015

AFP Fact Check, "Vaccination does not cause babies to die in their sleep," July 2, 2021 

PolitiFact: "No, vaccines do not cause sudden infant death syndrome," July 12, 2021

Children’s Health Defense, "The Plausible Connection between Vaccines and SIDS," June 26, 2018

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Vaccines," Aug. 14, 2020

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Vaccines do not cause sudden infant death syndrome

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