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Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2007 Nov;13(6):497-504.

Sudden infant death syndrome: another year of new hope but no cure.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.



Sudden infant death syndrome has inspired increasingly sophisticated studies at a time when rates are declining because of the Back-to-Sleep campaign, but ethnic disparities are widening. This review evaluates and discusses original, recent research in this area.


The epidemiology of sudden infant death syndrome was evaluated, corroborating known risk factors and identifying new risk factors such as socioeconomic depression and air pollution. Deficits in our understanding of risk factors for this syndrome persist, suggesting a need for ethnicity-specific education, especially among the underserved. Both autopsy and genetic testing were found to improve diagnostic accuracy or identify other causes of death (e.g. long Q-T syndrome). Debate persists over counseling regarding pacifiers and co-sleeping within the context of breastfeeding. Support was found for a relationship between sudden infant death syndrome and autonomic dysregulation via the serotonergic pathway, but more research is needed.


The cause of sudden infant death syndrome remains elusive. Recent studies, however, suggest that improved culturally sensitive educational programs, increased diagnostic specificity, and further clarification of the link between genetics and developmental stage might further decrease the number of infants lost to this devastating disease and elucidate the mechanism(s) responsible for this syndrome.

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