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Acta Med Croatica. 2002;56(3):109-18.

[Intrauterine hypoxia and sudden infant death syndrome].

[Article in Croatian]

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  • 1Odjel za ginekologiju i opstetriciju Klinicke bolnice Osijek, J. Huttlera 4 31000 Osijek, Hrvatska.


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or crib or cot death are synonyms for the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an infant. The incidence of SIDS has been estimated to be from 1-2% to 3%. Protracted intrauterine hypoxia or recurrent hypoxic insults during fetal life undoubtedly influence the development of the central nervous structures as a tissue most susceptible to hypoxia, although well developed mechanisms of defense against hypoxia exist during the fetal life. The mechanisms underlying SIDS include neurologically compromised infants who are deprived of compensatory mechanisms during sleep, sustaining a hypoxic insult with alterations in neurotransmitter receptors within the regions involved in chemoreception and cardiovascular control. Changes in the brain result from perinatal prolonged hypoxia (persistent reticular pathways in the pons and medulla, astroglia in the brainstem, gliosis of brain nerve nuclei, defects in neurotransmitter receptors, neuronal apoptosis, microthrombosis, and hypoxic ischemic lesion). Hypoxic perinatal risk factors for SIDS included passive and active exposure to cigarette smoking in pregnancy, abuse of drugs, alcohol, coffee and medication in pregnancy, intrauterine growth retardation, perinatal hypoxia with or without resuscitation, preeclampsia, anemia in pregnancy, prematurity, multiparity, multiple pregnancy, pregnant women aged < 20 years and > 35 years, cardiocirculatory, pulmonary and endocrine diseases in pregnancy, and short time interval between two pregnancies. As cigarette smoking has been demonstrated to lead to fetoplacental insufficiency, which result in fetal hypoxia, it is concluded that hypoxia is a precondition for the occurrence of SIDS. Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke decreases maternal red blood cell count, and concentrations of tyrosine and selenium, reduces fetal and neonatal cerebral blood flow, and increases maternal MCV, leukocytosis, especially neutrophils, monocytes and lymphocytes, maternal and fetal heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resistance index in umbilical artery, fetal hemoglobin, cytokine, serotonine, dopamine, catecholamine, hypoxanthine, endorphin and interleukin-6. Pregnancy at a risk of hypoxia, especially in heavy smokers, is a major risk factor for SIDS, and such pregnancy requires close and intensive antenatal monitoring.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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