SIDS incidence stable in California: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in California fell significantly in the 1990s but has held steady since 2002, according to a new report.

The decline in SIDS deaths in California began even before the launch of the national “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1994. This campaign called for parents and caregivers to put infants to sleep on their backs as opposed to their stomachs. Infants who are placed on their stomach to sleep are at greater risk of SIDS.

Dr. Ruey-Kang R. Chang, of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California and colleagues reviewed 6,303 SIDS cases occurring in California between 1989 and 2004.

The overall incidence of SIDS fell from 2.13 per thousand births in 1989, to 0.31 per thousand births from 2002 to 2004, they report in the November issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The incidence was highest in blacks and lowest in Asian/ Pacific Islanders.

They also observed that the peak age at death from SIDS moved from 2 months to 3 months, and the weekday-to-weekend occurrence ratio rose from 1.07 in the earliest era to 1.28 in the most recent.

“Importantly, a significant proportion of SIDS cases occur at childcare settings, which might contribute to the higher SIDS incidence on weekdays,” the investigators say.

“Clinicians and policymakers should be aware of these changes,” Chang told Reuters Health, “and more research effort is needed to identify public health strategies that can further prevent SIDS.”

SOURCE: The Journal of Pediatrics, November 2008.

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