FILE - In this Tuesday, July 27, 2021 file photo, a medical worker prepares a shot of the Moderna vaccine during a vaccination campaign at Saint Damien Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The White House says the U.S. has donated its 200 millionth COVID-19 shot to help vaccinate the rest of the world. The Biden administration is aiming to lead a global vaccination campaign even as it rolls out boosters for domestic use. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn, file)

PolitiFact: Vaccines do not cause sudden infant death syndrome

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  • No evidence has established that vaccines cause SIDS.

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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 PolitiFact’s 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.

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.”

PolitiFact 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.

Politifact rates the viral image False.

Author: Tom Kertscher, PolitiFact
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