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Acta Paediatr. 2003 Sep;92(9):1007-13.

Circadian variations in sudden infant death syndrome: associations with maternal smoking, sleeping position and infections. The Nordic Epidemiological SIDS Study.

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  • 1Medical Birth Registry of Norway, Bergen, Norway.



To study circadian variation in the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and possible associations with risk factors for SIDS.


A questionnaire-based case-control study matched for place of birth, age and gender was conducted in Denmark, Norway and Sweden: The Nordic Epidemiological SIDS Study. The study comprised 244 SIDS victims and 869 control infants between September 1992 and August 1995. The main outcome was hour found dead.


A significant circadian pattern was observed among the 242 SIDS victims with a known hour found dead, with a peak at 08.00-08.59 in the morning (n = 33). Of the SIDS victims, 12% were found dead at 00.00-05.59, 58% at 06.00-11.59, 21% at 12.00-17.59 and 9.0% at 18.00-23.59. When comparing night/morning SIDS and day/evening SIDS (found dead 00.00-11.59 and 12.00-23.59, respectively), the proportion of night/morning SIDS was high among infants of smoking mothers (81% vs 53%, p < 0.001), infants with a reported cold (82% vs 64%, p = 0.007) and infants sleeping side/supine (81% vs 60%, p < 0.001). No associations were observed between hour found dead and other sociodemographic risk factors for SIDS. Risk (odds ratio and 95% confidence interval) of night/morning SIDS and day/evening SIDS was 7.0 (4.5-10.9) and 1.5 (0.8-2.5), respectively, for maternal smoking, 2.2 (1.5-3.1) and 0.6 (0.3-1.3), respectively, if the infant had a reported cold, 3.7 (2.1-6.6) and 3.1 (1.1-8.4), respectively, if the infant was put to sleep in the side position (supine reference), and 11.0 (5.9-20.2) and 21.6 (7.6-60.8), respectively, if the infant was put to sleep in the prone position.


The observed higher proportion of night/morning cases in SIDS if the mother smoked, if the infant was reported to have a cold and if the infant was sleeping side/supine may contribute to the understanding of some epidemiological characteristics of SIDS.

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