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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Prof Helen L. Ball

Russell, Charlotte K., Volpe, Lane E. & Ball, Helen L. (2016). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In Evolutionary thinking in medicine: from research to policy and practice. Alvergne, A., Jenkinson, C. & Faurie, C. Cham: Springer. 61-74.

Author(s) from Durham


Evolutionary understanding of infant biology emphasises that human newborns have unique needs due to poorly developed neuromuscular capabilities, and physiological vulnerability in the absence of a caregiver. This perspective has been used to critically analyse Western infant care, propose testable hypotheses regarding sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant sleep and create interventions for policy and practice. This chapter provides an overview of conventional SIDS research and research informed by consideration of infants' evolutionary needs and expectations. Focusing primarily on infant sleep location, we illustrate how this research has been translated into policy and practice around the world.