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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 Aug 1;25(1-2):67-78.

Inflammatory responses in sudden infant death syndrome -- past and present views.

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Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is sudden unexpected death in infancy for which there is no explanation based on commonly accepted diagnostic criteria; however, half of the victims have had slight signs of infection prior to death. Such slight infection with fever is an important risk factor in combination with a prone sleeping position, especially in infants between 2 and 4 months of age. The purpose of this review is to summarise findings that support the theory that a significant part of cot deaths may be due to an overreaction to otherwise harmless infections. Such factors are mucosal immune stimulation, cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid and hypoxanthine levels in vitreous humour. The review aims at explaining why we believe that a slight infection combined with a prone position, a warm environment and a vulnerable age period may trigger a vicious circle leading to death.

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