Key Moments in Safe to Sleep® History: 1969–1993

Public Law 93-270—April 22, 1974 

SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act of 1974."

1969        1974        1988        1989        1991        1992        1993


Scientists apply the term "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" to what is now recognized as a distinct condition.


Congress passes the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act of 1974. SIDS is recognized as a significant public health issue. Congress directs the NICHD to take the lead on SIDS research within the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).


Medical societies in the Netherlands recommend babies not sleep on their stomachs to help reduce SIDS risk.


The NICHD/NIH develops the current definition of the condition SIDS as "the sudden death of an infant younger than 1 year of age, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history."


Studies published in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom show a significant link between SIDS and stomach sleeping. In these countries, emerging public education campaigns recommend that infants be placed to sleep on their sides or backs to reduce the risk for SIDS.

The newly formed American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on Infant Sleep Position and SIDS (hereafter AAP Task Force) begins to evaluate NICHD-supported and other studies on stomach sleeping as a risk factor for SIDS.


Based on research findings, many from studies supported by the NICHD, the AAP Task Force recommends that U.S. babies be placed on their backs or sides to sleep to help reduce the risk of SIDS.

The NICHD starts the U.S. National Infant Sleep Position study. This annual telephone survey assesses related sleep practices of nighttime caregivers in households with infants younger than 8 months of age.

National Infant Sleep Position logo


The NICHD funds large-scale studies in Tasmania, Australia, and in England to gather data on the safety of side and back sleeping within the context of SIDS.