SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

What is SIDS?

Triple Risk Model

Alone, these stressors do not cause an infant's death, but may reduce an infant's chances of survival. According to this model, all three elements must come together for SIDS to result.13

Past research has provided convincing evidence that supports the Triple Risk Model. The research has specifically shown that:14

  • The underlying weakness is most likely in a part of the nervous system that regulates homeostatic control.
  • The critical period likely relates to the development of the nervous system and its interactions with other physical systems such as immunologic, cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
  • Exogenous risk factors most likely interact with those parts of the nervous system that protect infants from life-threatening events.

When considering which infants could be at risk for SIDS, medical researchers have concluded that no single risk factor is likely to be sufficient to cause a SIDS death. Rather, several risk factors combined may contribute to an infants SIDS death.

Because of the complexity of SIDS, eliminating the syndrome requires a multidisciplinary approach involving pediatricians, epidemiologists, pathologists, neuroscientists, geneticists, infectious disease experts, nurses and investigators in the behavioral and social sciences, as well as other disciplines.15

At present, we do not know which infants are vulnerable or exactly when an infant is going through a period of critical development. Because of the uncertainty, we must apply risk reduction measures to all infants during their first year of life.