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Acta Paediatr. 2013 Jul;102(7):680-8. doi: 10.1111/apa.12244. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Unexpected collapse of healthy newborn infants: risk factors, supervision and hypothermia treatment.

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Department of Neonatology, Sachs' Children and Youth Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



To determine the occurrence and risk factors of sudden unexpected postnatal collapse (SUPC) in presumably healthy newborn infants.


All live-born infants during a 30-month period, in five major delivery wards in Stockholm, were screened, and possible cases of SUPC thoroughly investigated. Infants were ≥35 weeks of gestation, had an Apgar score >8 at 10 min and collapsed within 24 h after birth. Maternal, infant, event characteristics and outcome data were collected.


Twenty-six cases of SUPC were found among 68 364 live-born infants, an incidence of 38/100 000 live births. Sixteen of these cases of SUPC required resuscitation with ventilation >1 min, and 14 of these remained unexplained (21/100 000). Fifteen of the 26 children were found in a prone position, during skin-to-skin contact, 18 were primipara, and 13 occurred during unsupervised breastfeeding at <2 h of age. Three cases occurred during smart cellular phone use by the mother. Five developed hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) grade 2, and 4 underwent hypothermia treatment. Twenty-five infants had a favourable neurological outcome.


SUPC in apparent healthy babies is associated with initial, unsupervised breastfeeding, prone position, primiparity and distractions. Guidelines outlining the appropriate monitoring of newborns and safe early skin-to-skin contact should be implemented.

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