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A case-control study of smoking and sudden infant death syndrome in the Scandinavian countries, 1992 to 1995


AIM To establish whether smoking is an independent risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), if the effect is mainly due to prenatal or postnatal smoking, and the effect of smoking cessation.

METHODS The analyses were based on data from the Nordic epidemiological SIDS study, a case-control study with 244 cases and 869 controls. Odds ratios were computed by conditional logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS Smoking emerged as an independent risk factor for SIDS, and the effect was mainly mediated through maternal smoking in pregnancy (crude odds ratio 4.0 (95% confidence interval 2.9 to 5.6)). Maternal smoking showed a marked dose–response relation. There was no effect of paternal smoking if the mother did not smoke. Stopping or even reducing smoking was beneficial. SIDS cases exposed to tobacco smoke were breast fed for a shorter time than non-exposed cases, and feeding difficulties were also more common.

CONCLUSIONS Smoking is an independent risk factor for SIDS and is mainly mediated through maternal smoking during pregnancy. Stopping smoking or smoking less may be beneficial in reducing the risk of SIDS.

  • sudden infant death
  • smoking
  • epidemiology
  • pregnancy

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