Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) continues to be the most common cause of postneonatal infant death. SIDS is a complex, multifactorial disorder, the cause of which is still not fully understood. However, much is known now about environmental risk factors, some of which are modifiable. These include maternal and antenatal risk factors such as smoking during pregnancy, as well as infant-related risk factors such as non-supine sleeping position and soft bedding. Emerging evidence also substantiates an expanding number of genetic risk factors. Interactions between environmental and genetic risk factors may be of critical importance in determining an infant's actual risk of SIDS. Although no practical way exists to identify which infants will die of SIDS, nor is there a safe and proven prevention strategy even if identification were feasible, reducing exposure to modifiable risk factors has helped to lower the incidence of SIDS. Current challenges include wider dissemination of guidelines to all people who care for infants, dissemination of guidelines in culturally appropriate ways, and surveillance of SIDS trends and other outcomes associated with implementation of these guidelines.
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