The NICHD has been the lead agency for research on SIDS since the SIDS Act was passed in 1974. SIDS is a syndrome of unknown cause and is defined as the sudden death of an infant younger than one year of age, which remains unexplained even after a thorough case investigation, autopsy and review of the clinical history. SIDS is the leading cause of post neonatal mortality in the United States. According the National Center for Health Statistics, the 2006 SIDS rate was 0.67/1,000 live births, an increase in the rate over 2004 and 2005. The national Back to Sleep public health education campaign was launched in 1994 after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended back sleeping as the safest sleep position for infants younger than one year of age. Stomach sleeping is a major risk factor for SIDS. The campaign promotes placing babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS. It is led by the NIH in collaboration with the following campaign sponsors: AAP, Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA, First Candle/SIDS Alliance, and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs. Since the launch of the campaign, the SIDS rate has dropped by 50 percent among all racial groups. However, despite the overall success of the campaign, disparities remain in the SIDS rates among African American and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. The NICHD actively supports partnerships that advance outreach within these populations to reduce the risks for SIDS. In the last few years, as autopsy and death scene practices have improved, the field has started to use the SUID term as the umbrella term for SIDS and other infant deaths of unknown cause. The SUID term is now more commonly used than the SIDS term because many infant deaths cannot always be definitively diagnosed as SIDS. As a result, the field is moving away from discussing the risks for SIDS and is moving toward a discussion of safe sleep practices for infants. The NICHD, in collaboration with its Back to Sleep partners and other organizations, will be re-conceptualizing the SIDS awareness campaign into a safe sleep practices campaign beginning in fiscal year 2010. Part of this re-conceptualization will include continued efforts to reduce SIDS among populations at higher risk, but will also incorporate messages and recommendations related to SUID. NICHD will also have to conduct market research to test modified messages and logos and work with partners to expand community outreach efforts.

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