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What causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?

The causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are, by definition, unknown. As the name suggests, SIDS occurs when a seemingly healthy infant is found dead, usually while sleeping. SIDS is part of a larger category of deaths known as sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). An infant may be found to have died from another cause, such as accidental suffocation, infection, or a previously unrecognized birth defect. If post-mortem investigation has ruled out these other causes, then the death is defined as SIDS. So far, researchers believe that SIDS occurs when the brain stem (which is in charge of regulating our breathing, heart rate and sleep) fails to respond well to a temporary lack of oxygen.

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About this article

Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 24 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Votes: 1151 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)


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