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Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Dec;96(12):3288-94.

Helicobacter pylori is not the cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, QEII Medical Centre, Nedlands, Australia.



The cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is unknown, but our previous hypothesis proposed that Helicobacter pylori could be a causative organism. In this study, we aimed to test this hypothesis by examining gastric and tracheal tissues from a prospective cohort of SIDS infants and re-examining previously studied paraffin-fixed tissues for H. pylori.


Fresh gastric antral and trachea specimens obtained at postmortem from nine consecutive new cases of SIDS in Perth, Western Australia were studied prospectively. Tissues were evaluated for H. pylori by rapid urease test (CLOtest), bacterial culture, histology (hematoxylin and eosin, Warthin-Starry Silver, and immmunoperoxidase staining), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The latter two tests were also used for the re-examination of paraffin-embedded specimens from infants who died from SIDS (n = 17) and other non-SIDS causes (n = 7) in Kansas City, Missouri.


Specimens from nine consecutive SIDS infants in Western Australia showed no evidence of H. pylori by any analyses. In the paraffin-embedded gastric and trachea specimens from Missouri, rod and coccoid-shaped bacteria were seen histologically in 33.3% of the specimens, but these were not typical H. pylori. Upon analysis by PCR, "H. pylori DNA" was detected in 53% (9/17) of SIDS samples versus 57% (4/7) in non-SIDS samples. In all cases the immunoperoxidase stain was negative, suggesting that PCR either 1) gave false positive results in this type of potentially contaminated postmortem specimen or 2) H. pylori DNA was indeed present but not increased in prevalence in SIDS infants.


H. pylori is unlikely to be an etiological agent in SIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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