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SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome & The Necessity of Chiropractic


“In some infants when the head is brought into extension, the posterior arch of atlas inverts through the foramen magnum. This often caused mild to severe vertebral artery compression.

10 of 17 infants studied demonstrated this atlas inversion. All ten were SIDS deaths.


Giles FH; Bina M; Sotrl A; Infantile Atlanto-occipital Instability/ The Potential Danger of Extreme Extension. Am J Dis Child 19/9; 133 (1): 30-7 / Medline ID:79101175


A Possible Cause of SIDS


Vertebral artery compression that cuts off blood flow to the brainstem has been suggested as an underlying cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This study, published in the journal Pediatrics, involved postmortem examination of the vertebral arteries of 20 infants who died of SIDS or other causes.


In five of the cases the deceased infant’s neck was extended; in nine cases it was rotated 90 degrees, and in six cases the head was held in the neutral position. Both macroscopic and microscopic evidence of vertebral artery compression was found in some of the extended or rotated necks of infants. No vertebral artery compression was detected in the necks held in the neutral position.


According to the investigators:

· This study provides direct evidence that both neck extension and rotation in infants can compress the vertebral arteries between the atlas and the occiput or at the C1 transverse foramen.

· Architectural anomalies in arteries at the base of the brain are risk factors threatening reduced vertebrobasilar flow that could cause acute brainstem ischemia and death.

· Because an infant tends to rotate or extend its head in the prone sleeping position to clear its nose from the bedding, vertebral artery compression caused by these head movements could explain why the prone position is a major risk factor for SIDS.