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Arch Dis Child. 2006 Feb;91(2):107-11. Epub 2005 May 4.

Are the risk factors for SIDS different for preterm and term infants?

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, New Zealand.



Mortality from SIDS has declined since the recommendation that infants are not placed prone to sleep. SIDS mortality is higher in infants born preterm than those born at term.


To determine if risk factors for SIDS are any different for preterm and term infants.


Mortality data over time were used to determine whether the reduction in SIDS mortality rates had occurred equally in term and preterm infants. Data from two New Zealand studies (a case-control study and a case-cohort study) were used to determine if any differences existed in risk factors for SIDS between term and preterm infants before and after the SIDS prevention campaign.


SIDS mortality appears to have decreased by similar proportions in term and preterm infants. Risk factors for SIDS were similar in preterm and term infants, except for parity where there was a significant interaction. Increasing parity was a risk factor for SIDS in term infants but not preterm infants.


SIDS rates have decreased at comparable rates in term and preterm infants, but preterm birth still remains a risk factor for SIDS. The magnitude of the odds ratios associated with modifiable risk factors were similar for both groups. There may however be a difference in risk associated with parity between term and preterm infants. The messages for risk factors for SIDS are applicable to mothers of preterm as well as term infants.

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