Date Published: 17 December 2005

Researchers suggest a reason for recurrent sudden infant death syndrome

Health News from Cambridge, England (UK).

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the NHS in Scotland are publishing a paper in the 16th Dec. 2005 issue of the Lancet that has found women whose first infant died due to sudden infant death syndrome (also known as 'SIDS' and as 'cot death') may be at an increased risk of future babies also dying of SIDS because of a higher risk of complications in subsequent pregnancies.

Researchers Prof Gordon Smith from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Cambridge, Dr Angela Wood of the MRC Biostatistics Unit and Dr Jill Pell and Mr Richard Dobbie of who work for Public Health Departments in NHS Scotland, analysed information recorded on over a quarter of a million women who have had consecutive births.

They found women whose first infant died due to SIDS were more likely to have complications in the second pregnancy. These women were more than twice as likely to deliver a poorly grown baby and were more than twice as likely to deliver pre-term.

It is well recognised that poorly grown and pre-term infants are at increased risk of SIDS.

Further analysis showed that the association was due in part to shared risk factors for SIDS and these pregnancy complications. For example, women who smoke are more likely to have an infant die due to SIDS and are more likely to deliver a poorly grown baby.

A greater proportion of smokers among the women whose first infant died due to SIDS led, in part, to the next pregnancy being more likely to result in a poorly grown infant.

The association was also partly explained by the tendency for pregnancy complications to affect consecutive pregnancies. When women had a first baby die of SIDS, the second baby was more likely to be pre-term and more likely to be poorly grown.

It is well recognised that women who experience complications in one pregnancy are at increased risk of the same complications in future pregnancies. Therefore, among women whose first infant died due to SIDS, there were greater proportions whose baby had been delivered pre-term or was small at birth.

This placed them at increased risk of these complications in the second pregnancy and this also partly contributed to the increased risk of complications in the second pregnancy.

Professor Gordon Smith said:

" This study shows the association between previous pregnancy history and smoking may explain ? at least in part ? the tendency for women to experience recurrent infant deaths due to SIDS."

Source(s): Cambridge University, England (UK)

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