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Arch Dis Child. 1997 Jul;77(1):54-5.

SIDS, illness, and acute medical care. New Zealand Cot Death Study Group.

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


One component of the Back to Sleep campaign to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the recommendation that parents seek medical attention if their infant is unwell. The aim of this study was to investigate of SIDS could in part be explained by sick infants not getting appropriate medical care. Data on symptoms of illness and on acute medical contacts made for infants dying from SIDS (n = 390) within two weeks of their death were compared with those from a randomly selected group of control infants (n = 1592). SIDS cases had more severe illness than controls (odds ratio (OR) = 3.43; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.69 to 5.38), and were more likely to have seen a general practitioner (OR = 1.37; 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.73) or attended hospital (OR = 3.43, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.73). Only 1.3% of all SIDS cases had symptoms suggesting severe illness and had not seen a general practitioner. A lack of medical contacts in the two weeks before death does not contribute to the risk of SIDS.

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