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Case control study of thermal environment preceding haemorrhagic shock encephalopathy syndrome


The purpose of the study was to investigate whether the thermal environment in which babies slept before developing haemorrhagic shock encephalopathy syndrome (HSES) differed from that of other babies. Data were collected by standardised interview from parents of 31 babies who had had HSES before the age of 7 months and compared with equivalent data for 124 control babies, with matching for outside temperature on the relevant night and for age. Multivariate analysis showed a strong association between HSES and covering of the baby’s head by bedding, the odds ratio being 30.7 (95% confidence interval, 2.5 to 384). There were weaker associations with other aspects of the thermal environment. This suggests a link between HSES and some cases of cot death, supports the suggestion that HSES may be caused by overheating, and reinforces advice that babies should be placed to sleep in such a way that they are less likely to become totally covered.

  • haemorrhagic shock encephalopathy syndrome
  • head covering
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • overheating
  • hyperthermia

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