Non-Sleep Factors Also Key to SIDS Risk Reduction

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Non-Sleep Factors Also Key to SIDS Risk Reduction
Non-Sleep Factors Also Key to SIDS Risk Reduction

THURSDAY, Dec. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- An infant's sleeping environment is not the only factor to consider when it comes to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to research published online Dec. 2 in Pediatrics.

Richard Goldstein, M.D., who is with the pediatric advanced care team at Boston Children's Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Center, and colleagues analyzed government data on 947,156 infant deaths between 1983 and 2012. During that time, SIDS rates fell by 71 percent. Much of the shift happened between 1994 and 1996, after the "Back to Sleep" campaign was launched.

However, infant deaths from other causes also declined -- by 38 to 43 percent. And except for the three years from 1994 to 1996, Goldstein told HealthDay, much of the SIDS decline seemed to be related to "background factors" other than the safe-sleeping campaign. Some of the critical trends, according to Goldstein, have been the substantial declines in smoking and teen pregnancy. There have also been major advances in medical care for premature infants who are at increased risk of SIDS.

But while SIDS is much less common than it was 30 years ago, there has been little change in the past decade or so. "We've hit a plateau," Goldstein said. "And if we're going to get any farther, we need to better understand the factors that make children vulnerable. SIDS is still a mystery, and we need to apply science to try to explain it."

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