South Australian Contribution to the Safe Sleep Guidelines and our understanding of SIDS
Dr Susan Beal
Began working at the Adelaide Children's Hospital as a research registrar in neurosurgery and then running the Cerebral Palsy Clinic.
In 1970 she was asked to investigate the incidence of SIDS in South Australia. Between 1973 and 1990 she visited more than 500 SA families who had lost babies to cot death.
In 1982 she suggested that prone (tummy) sleeping increased the rate of SIDS and in 1986 she was able to show that the rate of death was highest among babies who slept on their stomach. She is credited with being the first person anywhere to argue publicly against babies sleeping on their stomachs and in the countries that have heeded her advice, including Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the incidence of SIDS has reduced dramatically. Dr. Susan Beal was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen's Birthday honours list, 1997, for service to medicine, particularly in the fields of paediatrics and SIDS research.
Professor Roger Byard and Dr Fiona Bright
Over the past few years South Australian research has significantly contributed to identifying pieces of the SIDS puzzle.
Professor Roger Byard and Dr. Fiona Bright (both based in SA) have been involved in research which has helped to enhance our understanding of SIDS by identifying serotonin abnormalities in SIDS cases and increasing our understanding of the role of Substance P in SIDS cases. Dr. Bright's article on what we know about SIDS is great to understand where we are up to with regard to understanding this condition. To read more about this research or to read the article click on the links below:
Other Australian research
Researchers at Westmead Children’s hospital in Sydney have also contributed by making a connection between SIDS and a lack of Orexin (a particular type of brain protein which helps regulate sleep arousal).
SIDS is complex and although we may have many pieces to the SIDS puzzle there is still much work to be done.