SIDS Cases Spike on New Year’s Day

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The number of babies who die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) surges by 33% on New Year’s Day, a new study has found. This surge has been linked to alcohol consumption by caretakers the night before.

The University of California, San Diego study, published in the journal Addiction and led by sociologist David Phillips, documented the dramatic rise in SIDS deaths on New Year’s. The spike is beyond the normal winter increase in SIDS cases.

The study examined 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006 using computerized death certificates, the linked birth and infant death dataset, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The authors claim it’s the first large-scale U.S. study to explore the possible connections between alcohol and SIDS.

Also known as “crib death” because it strikes seemingly healthy babies in their sleep, SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants between the ages of 1 month to 1 year. SIDS is usually confirmed as the cause of death only when other causes are ruled out. Be sure to take precautions against SIDS. Here are ten steps to prevent the syndrome

Phillips and his coauthors found that the SIDS death rate is abnormally high for children of alcohol-consuming mothers. Babies of mothers who drink are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS.

The study cannot, however, point definitively to alcohol consumption as a cause of SIDS, but the connection cannot be completely overlooked.

The authors wrote, "There should be increased efforts to inform caretakers that alcohol impairs parental capacity and might be a risk factor for SIDS.”

Phillips’ coauthors are Kimberly M. Brewer and Paul Wadensweiler of UC San Diego.

The research was funded by the Marian E. Smith Foundation.

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