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Open Access Highly Accessed Opinion

A perspective on SIDS pathogenesis. The hypotheses: plausibility and evidence

Paul N Goldwater

Author Affiliations

Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, SA Pathology at the Women's & Children's Hospital

Discipline of Paediatrics, University of Adelaide, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide, SA, Australia

BMC Medicine 2011, 9:64  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-64

Published: 27 May 2011

Abstract

Several theories of the underlying mechanisms of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have been proposed. These theories have born relatively narrow beach-head research programs attracting generous research funding sustained for many years at expense to the public purse. This perspective endeavors to critically examine the evidence and bases of these theories and determine their plausibility; and questions whether or not a safe and reasoned hypothesis lies at their foundation. The Opinion sets specific criteria by asking the following questions: 1. Does the hypothesis take into account the key pathological findings in SIDS? 2. Is the hypothesis congruent with the key epidemiological risk factors? 3. Does it link 1 and 2? Falling short of any one of these answers, by inference, would imply insufficient grounds for a sustainable hypothesis. Some of the hypotheses overlap, for instance, notional respiratory failure may encompass apnea, prone sleep position, and asphyxia which may be seen to be linked to co-sleeping. For the purposes of this paper, each element will be assessed on the above criteria.