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Int J Legal Med. 1993;105(6):333-8.

The potential role of bacterial toxins in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, UK.


Toxigenic bacteria have been implicated in some cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Although there is not much evidence that Clostridia spp. are associated with SIDS in Britain, strains of Staphylococcus aureus producing pyrogenic toxins have been isolated from significant numbers of these infants at autopsy The pyrogenic toxins, produced by some strains of group A Streptococcus pyogenes as well as staphylococci, are powerful "superantigens" that have significant physiological effects including induction of fever > 38 degrees C. In this article, interactions between genetic and environmental factors that might enhance colonization of epithelial surfaces by toxigenic staphylococci are analyzed: infant's expression of Lewis(a) antigen which acts as a receptor for some microorganisms; viral infections; the effect of mother's smoking on susceptibility to respiratory infection. Based on epidemiological findings and laboratory investigations, a hypothesis is proposed to explain how bacteria producing pyrogenic toxins might contribute to some cot deaths.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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