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It is strange that some aspects of infant care have been strongly promoted by modern medicine while others have been neglected. Thus prone sleeping which has been strongly promoted is now related to an increase in SIDS, whereas the promotion of breast feeding in developed countries has been less successful. Unfortunately there has not been sufficient physiological investigation of many infant care practices and some of the proposed mechanisms for SIDS and prone sleeping have not been substantiated. Thus further work is needed on hypercapnia, hypothermia and periodic breathing and respiratory control. Studying infants alone may leave out important physiological mechanisms such as the effect on body warmth when the infant is close to the mother. More investigation is needed of antenatal factors related to SIDS and it is critically important that physiological investigation should not look for single mechanisms but be concerned with the interaction of many physiological factors.

Original publication




Journal article


Early human development

Publication Date





165 - 179


Nuffield Department of Obstetrics, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Humans, Sudden Infant Death, Infant Behavior, Temperature, Growth, Respiration, Prone Position, Infant, Infant Care