Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
SIDS remains the primary cause of death for infants between one month and six months of age. Prior to 1991 the incidence rates of SIDS in the United States ranged between 1.2 and 2 per 1,000 live births. Of the developed countries of the world, some, including Sweden, Hong Kong, and Japan, reported rates as low as 0.3 to 0.5 per 1,000 live births. Others, such as Australia (especially Tasmania), New Zealand, and Northern Ireland reported rates as high as 3-7 per 1,000 live births. In 1995, three years after the Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines recommending placing infants in the nonprone position (i.e., not lying on the stomach) for sleeping, Michael Malloy and his colleagues published a study noting a 33 percent drop in the incidence of SIDS within the United States. Other countries reported similar experiences after adopting infant sleep position changes. This lowered incidence was maintained for succeeding years, but it remains to be seen if additional decreases will occur with increasing compliance with the recommended sleep positioning guidelines.