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August 16, 1976

Medical News

JAMA. 1976;236(7):811-818. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270080003001

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Placement of baby's head could influence risk of sudden death  The position of a sleeping baby's head may have a great deal to do with whether he is likely to become a victim of the sudden infant death syndrome.There is no lack of hypotheses to account for what may have happened when a parent leaves an apparently healthy baby sound asleep and returns, often seconds later, to find the infant dead. Postulated mechanisms range from infections to various anatomical, metabolical, and neurological defects.Harvey Kravitz, MD, Park Ridge, Ill, and Robert G. Scherz, MD, Tacoma, Wash, believe the explanation (at least in many cases) may be fairly simple—the child's airway is obstructed due to the placement of his or her head and pressure from the head's weight on the mattress, especially when the baby is lying face down on a flat surface. The two pediatricians also suggest that