Sudden infant death syndrome cost thousands of lives in the 70s and 80s—until Peter Fleming’s conversations with bereaved families led to his discovery that babies should sleep on their backs, reports The Guardian.

At the centre of the Sids revolution was Bristol doctor Peter Fleming. He is now semi-retired, but is currently exploring a link between subtle features of the newborn hearing test and arousal mechanisms that might answer the grievous unsolved riddle of why Sids happens.

In 1978 Fleming, who had qualified in Bristol, returned from a job at the Toronto children’s hospital in Canada with funding from the US National Institutes of Health that enabled him to set up his own respiratory lab. He wanted to look in particular at the relationship between breathing and temperature control in infants.

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