A Short History of the SIDS Global Strategy Task Force

compiled by Henry Krous, San Diego, CA, USA

Conceived by Kaarene Fitzgerald of Melbourne, Australia, the SIDS Global Strategy Task Force (GSTF) held its first meeting in 1992 following the second SIDS International Conference in Sydney, Australia. It was composed of "an independent group of SIDS researcher, clinicians, and educationalists interested in networking their efforts on an international level to enhance SIDS research and education. The participants were actively committed to finding the cause(s) and prevention of SIDS." [1] The GSTF was jointly organised by members of SIDS International and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, and sponsored by the Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation, Victoria, Australia, and the NIH. Members of SIDS International and SIDS investigators from around the world came together every two years to strategise means to enhance research, promulgate international support for parents and other survivors of SIDS, and provide public education about SIDS.

Five working groups were established to achieve these goals: Epidemiology and Risk Factors, Pathology, Developmental Physiology, Immunology/Infection, and Education and Training. Each of these groups developed an agenda and action plan and reported on its activities at each of the GSTF Meetings that were held in association with the SIDS International conferences. The Epidemiology Working Group focused on standardised mortality reporting, child care practices, ethics, and international communication. The Pathology Group centered its activities on the development and implementation of a standardised autopsy protocol, and recommendations to adopt the Centers for Disease Control Guidelines for Death Scene Investigation in Sudden, Unexplained Infant Deaths, and to adopt an internationally acceptable definition for SIDS. It also participated in GSTF position statements. The Developmental Physiology Group focused on the role of prone sleep position increasing the risk of SIDS, the ability of infants to maintain homeostasis in response to potentially dangerous stimuli, the physiologic basis for epidemiologic risk factors, and the adequacy of hospital-based physiologic studies of infants to represent the home environment. The Infection/Immunology Group addressed the potential role and contribution of infection, inflammation, and cytokines in the mechanism of death in SIDS. The Education Group strategised means to disseminate information about SIDS to the public, parent support groups, and medical and allied health educational programs.

The GSTF accomplished many of its original goals and its mission has been continued through its amalgamation with the European Society for the Study and Prevention of Infant Death (ESPID).


  1. Fitzgerald K. Globally Tackling the SIDS Enigma: The Global Strategy Task Force. J SIDS Inf Mort 1996; 1: 67-69.