Led by The Lullaby Trust, the Global Action and Prioritisation of Sudden infant death (GAPS) Project was set up to define which areas of research should be prioritised, by the international research community and policy makers, in order to reduce the number of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) deaths.

GAPS was made possible thanks to Jennifer and Christopher Reid, founders of Teddy’s Wish, whose fundraising in memory of their son Edwards enabled the project to take place.

Project aims

The aim of the project was to build an international consensus on future research priorities in sudden infant death. The Lullaby Trust worked with the American SIDS Institute, Red Nose (formerly Sids and Kids in Australia) and the International Society for the study and prevention of Perinatal and Infant Death (ISPID) to collect data from a wide range of professionals across 25 countries working in the field of infant death and bereaved parents to identify the most important areas for research over the next decade.

How the GAPS Project worked

Ideas for research priorities were gathered via two online surveys and three workshops taking place in the UK, US and Australia. The method was used across multiple countries and settings and was based on the priority-setting partnership model of the James Lind Alliance,.

Outcomes of the GAPS Project

Following the workshops, the top 10 SUDI priorities were agreed by the international stakeholders. They set out avenues of research, rather than form specific narrow questions, to allow room for interpretation and allow researchers from multiple disciplines to approach them from different perspectives.

The 10 research priorities are:

  1. Studying mechanisms leading to death and how they interact with environmental risk factors.
  2. Enabling best practice processes and systematic data collection for accurate classification of SUID deaths to inform research and prevention.
  3. Developing and evaluating new ways to make safe sleep campaigns more effective.
  4. Understanding to what extent social and cultural factors affect parental choice in sleep practices and responses to risk reduction campaigns.
  5. Identifying specific biomarkers to assist pathologists in determining the cause of death.
  6. Understanding the role of genetic factors in SUID risk.
  7. Understanding what mechanisms underlie SUID risk at different ages.
  8. Conducting further research on the role of abnormal or immature brain anatomy and physiology.
  9. Better understanding of the practice of sharing any sleep surface with an infant, notably how it interacts with other factors to make it more or less risky.
  10. Identifying what factors are associated with SUID where all aspects of recommended risk reduction have been followed.

Learn more about the GAPS Project and its outcomes by reading our Target SUDI Together report below.