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Eur Respir J. 1999 Jan;13(1):95-9.

Seasonality, but not prevalence of sudden infant death syndrome varies by region in mainland Britain.

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University Dept. of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Aberdeen, UK.


This study aimed to investigate whether seasonal variation in day length contributed to winter/summer variation in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at different latitudes in mainland Britain. Over 11 yrs 13,973 deaths were studied. Using appropriate analytic techniques a sine curve was fitted to monthly rates with the amplitude indicating magnitude of seasonal change. The rate of SIDS per 1,000 live births was the same (1.73) in the north as in the south. The amplitude was a quarter less in the north (41.3%) than in the south (54.2%) (p<0.001). While annual rates did not differ, the within year distribution did. The findings for seasonality of SIDS births were similar (amplitudes: north 213%, south 32.3%). Correlations were made between SIDS amplitude and individual environmental factors, particularly temperature and day length. These complex issues, while reported briefly, do not allow firm conclusions. In the north the winter day length is shorter, sunshine hours are less and temperature is lower, but the winter increment in SIDS is less. The extent of seasonal variation of sudden infant death syndrome is greater in the south as compared with the colder, darker north but this has no effect on sudden infant death syndrome rates. Changing photoperiod by latitude, amongst other environmental influences, may hold clues to the aetiology of sudden infant death syndrome.

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