Research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (cont.)
The Back to Sleep Campaign
Reducing SIDS deaths has been a goal of the NICHD since it was founded. In 1974, congress passed the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act (Public Law 93-270), which placed the NICHD at the forefront of SIDS research. This Act also charged the NICHD with providing information to the people of the United States about SIDS and ways to reduce the risk of SIDS.
In 1991, as a result of NICHD-supported research, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) began recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep, at nap time and at bedtime, to help reduce the risk of SIDS. In 1994, the NICHD joined the AAP and other partners in starting the Back to Sleep campaign, an effort to educate the public about reducing the risk of SIDS by placing babies to sleep on their backs. Since that time, the number of SIDS deaths has dropped by 50 percent.
The Back to Sleep campaign, now nearly a decade old, has expanded its messages to address the topics of SIDS and SIDS reduction among certain ethnic groups. This expanded effort now includes the Back to Sleep African American outreach, Back to Sleep materials in Spanish, and a forthcoming outreach project in American Indian communities. By partnering with national and community-based organizations that serve these audiences, the Back to Sleep campaign can get the safe sleeping message to many communities, to save infant lives.
The Institute maintains a Web site for the Back to Sleep campaign, which outlines the history of the campaign and of SIDS in the United States, provides general information about SIDS and ways to reduce the risk of SIDS, and offers free materials for learning more about SIDS risk reduction. You can also call 1-800-505-CRIB (1-800-505-2742) to order free Back to Sleep materials.
NICHD Research on SIDS
The NICHD has been working to reduce the number of SIDS deaths, both through the Back to Sleep campaign, and through research into the causes and features of SIDS.
Recent research suggests that many SIDS babies are born with brain defects that may increase their risk of SIDS. Studies of SIDS victims show that many SIDS infants have an abnormality in a network of neurons in the brainstem that are involved in the developing and controlling blood pressure and breathing, temperature regulation, and sleep and waking. Although this brain defect may not be the sole cause for SIDS, researchers have some ideas about how the brain problem may be involved in SIDS: