December 15, 2005

Study sheds light on cot-death recurrence

LONDON (Reuters) - Women whose babies die from Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have a higher risk of
complications in another pregnancy which may help to explain
why some suffer recurrent cot deaths, scientists said on

SIDS, or cot death, is the leading cause of death in babies
under a year old. The cause of the mysterious syndrome in which
babies die inexplicably in their sleep is unknown.

Lying the infant face-down, parental smoking and old
mattresses which may harbor bacteria have been cited as
possible causes.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England said
pregnancy complications resulting in restricted growth or
pre-term birth also have an impact on cot deaths.

"A woman who has a baby who dies from SIDS is about 2-3
times more likely in her next pregnancy to have a baby that is
either premature or growth-restricted," said Professor Gordon
Smith who headed the research team.

He added that researchers have known that women who have
had a SIDS baby in the past are more likely to experience SIDS
again but the reason why has been a mystery.

"This provides a possible partial explanation about why a
woman would be predisposed to have multiple SIDS events. In
their subsequent pregnancies they are more likely to have
complications which would in turn predispose the baby toward
SIDS," he added.

Smith and his team, who reported their findings in The
Lancet medical journal, studied information on infant deaths
and pregnancy in more than 285,000 women who gave birth in
Scotland between 1995 and 2001.

Women whose babies died due to SIDS were more likely to
smoke, to be unmarried, to be very young and to live in a area
of high deprivation. These factors contributed, in part, to the
increased risk of future pregnancy complications, Smith added.