Much has been learned about SIDS and crib death in the past several years, but there is still no conclusive answer to what causes SIDS.
Some researchers think that SIDS happens when a baby is faced with an environmental risk factor during a critical period of development in the womb. Some SIDS infants are born with brain abnormalities in the "arcuate nucleus," a portion of the brain that is involved in controlling breathing and waking during sleep, that makes them vulnerable to sudden death during infancy. Babies born with defects in other portions of the brain or body may also be more susceptible to a sudden death. These abnormalities may stem from prenatal exposure to a toxic substance, or lack of a vital compound in the prenatal environment, such as sufficient oxygen.
Experts are continuing to study the brain, the autonomic nervous system, infant care and sleep environments, infection and immunity, and genetics in search of answers.
The following have been consistently identified as risk factors for SIDS:
> baby sleeping on side or tummy,
> sleeping on a soft surface,
> maternal smoking during pregnancy,
> late or no prenatal care,
> young maternal age,
> premature birth
> low birth weight and
> male gender
If your child is subject to any of these risks, it recommended that you begin SIDS sleep techniques right away.