Research and sudden infant death syndrome: definitions, diagnostic difficulties and discrepancies

J Paediatr Child Health. 2004 Aug;40(8):419-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2004.00421.x.


The diagnosis of causes of sudden infant death is an often complex and difficult process. Variable standards of autopsy practice and the use of different definitions for entities such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have also contributed to confusion and discrepancies. For example, the term SIDS has been used when the requirements of standard definitions have not been fulfilled. In an attempt to correct this situation recent initiatives have been undertaken to stratify cases of unexpected infant death and to institute protocols that provide frameworks for investigations. However, if research is to be meaningful, researchers must be scrupulous in assessing how extensively cases have been investigated and how closely cases fit with internationally recognized definitions and standards. Unless this approach is adopted, evaluation of research findings in SIDS will be difficult and the literature will continue to be beset by contradictions and unsubstantiated conclusions.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / standards*
  • Cause of Death
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Sudden Infant Death / diagnosis*