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Crib Death: A Biobehavioral Phenomenon?

Lipsitt, Lewis P. (2003) Crib Death: A Biobehavioral Phenomenon?. Current Directions in Psychological Science 12(5):pp. 164-170.

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In developed countries, more children under 1 year of age die of crib death (sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS) than of all other causes combined. Researchers and clinicians have proposed many possible causes of SIDS, but the abrupt, unexpected death of some babies remains mysterious and frightening. Although infant behavior may explain some of these deaths, scant attention has addressed behavioral characteristics of babies who die without medical explanation. Any explanation of SIDS must account for the fact that most SIDS deaths occur at 2 to 5 months of age, acknowledging that a protective mechanism appears to spare babies before 2 months but then disappears. The respiratory occlusion reflex serves as an initial defense against smothering and can provide such an explanation. Infantile reflexes wane, after providing opportunities for learned responses to be acquired. During this well-documented neurobehavioral transition from subcortical to cortically mediated responding, some babies, viable for the first 2 months, may become especially vulnerable if they fail to acquire sufficiently strong defensive behaviors needed to prevent occlusion after the waning of the life-preserving reflex. Recent success of back-to-sleep directives, urging that babies sleep on their backs to avoid smothering, supports this hypothesis.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:sudden infant death syndrome, crib death
Subjects:Theory > General
Psychology > Child/Developmental
ID Code:223
Deposited By:Green, Christopher D.
Deposited On:20 August 2004