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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sids In History

The phenomenon of sudden death in babies has been recorded for centuries. SIDS has been described as a distinct disorder for nearly a century. In 1979 it was officially accepted as a cause of death. The current definition of the condition was developed by the National Institutes of Health in 1989.

As sleeping habits for families and babies changed over time so have the explanations offered for sudden death. Until a century ago infants and small children slept in the same beds as their mother. When babies were found dead their mothers were often blamed for rolling on top of them. In the 1700s and 1800s mothers were accused of rolling on their babies while drunk. After noting that SIDS is very rare in Asian countries where parents and babies typically sleep together, some recent researchers have theorized that sleeping with a parent might help regulate an infant's respiration and thus prevent SIDS.

In the early 1900s in the United States when cosleeping became rare, sudden death was blamed on dressing a baby too warmly at night. Before physicians realized that all babies have large thymus glands, enlargements of the thymus gland were also blamed for SIDS.

Studies release in 2003 showed no correlation between immunization schedules and SIDS death.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Stomium to SwiftsSudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) - The Mysterious Malady, Sids Research, Risk Factors, "back To Sleep" Campaign, Sids In History