International Conference on Stillbirth, SIDS and Baby Survival Recap

July 31, 2018

Dear Baby’s Breath Members, Supporters and Followers,

Last month, I had the great privilege to represent Baby’s Breath and all Canadians at the 2018 Glasgow International Conference on Stillbirth, SIDS and Baby Survival hosted by the International Society for the Study of Prevention of Perinatal and Infant Death. This year, 531 professionals attended the conference, representing 36 countries.

Over 3 days, and on occasion with standing room only, we learned as renowned researchers, presenters and parents discussed many of the current issues and progress made in the study of infant death.

The conference included a Remembrance Ceremony at Glasgow Cathedral attended by nearly 300 people. There were readings and a candle lighting ceremony to honor the families across the world who were not at the event but were in everyone’s thoughts.

There were large and small group presentations, a section of poster displays, and tables of pamphlets and exhibits.

Key points and subjects touched on included:

  • Issues on resentment, loss and bereavement.
  • The importance of reducing the risk.
  • Difficulties imposed on interpreting statistics on SIDS because of a lack of uniformity defining and investigating.
  • Critical importance of collaboration with coroners/medical examiners and of developing and utilizing thorough investigative protocols.
  • Warnings should exist on the use of pillow tops, memory foam and air mattresses for young babies.
  • Existence of vulnerabilities in affected babies. Ex. Morphologic hippocampal abnormalities in some.
  • Aberrant neuronal communication and binding deficiencies in the pons region of the brain, as well as in the medulla and the relationship of this to the arousal system.
  • Smoking is said to be one the biggest risk factors. 4x the increased risk if exposed to prenatal maternal smoking and 1.5x the risk if exposed to post natal smoking.
  • Factors involved in SIDS and SUDC are different.
  • Development of National Bereavement Care pathways with appropriate training is highly recommended.
  • Hospital Certification program for education in hospitals regarding safe sleep.
  • Individuals are 6x more likely to suffer prolonged grief after loss of baby than after the loss of a spouse.
  • A mobile app has been developed for helping those working with families to assess potential risk for SIDS and then to work to reduce possible risk factors more specifically relevant to each patient.
  • Incidence of SUDC in the UK is higher then deaths due to fires and drowning which receive targeted funding and public health attention.
  • Importance of groups to help support families pregnant after perinatal loss.
  • Unanswered questions regarding use of SSRI in pregnant moms.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics explained various significant difficulties in developing consensus on recommendations.
  • Outstanding up to date downloadable text for families and professionals, with chapters written by leading experts in SIDS titled “SIDS – Sudden Infant and Early Childhood Death. The Past, The Present and The Future.” Jhodie R. Duncan and Roger W. Byard.

You can read the full abstracts of each oral and poster presentation here.

Overall, the conference was filled with information to digest, discuss and debate. Though I have been involved in the infant death world for many years as a SIDS mother, physician, member and Director with Baby’s Breath I learned so much at this conference. It was refreshing to be able to identify with individuals and organizations faced with barriers and challenges within their country’s system, while acknowledging that together we are making strides in the right direction. We know that in many ways Canada seems not to be in the forefront. We have much awareness to create, much research to do and much support to organize. SIDS cannot be a fringe issue. It is a CORE issue to individuals, families and societies, and government and policy makers must be made aware of this. This conference provided new ideas and opportunities for Baby’s Breath. We know we need to elevate SIDS, SUDC and stillbirth core issues in Canada as they require significant attention and we will continue to work to do that.


Dr. Wendy Potter
Chair, Board of Directors
Baby’s Breath