Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Are the risk factors for SIDS different for preterm and term infants?
  1. J M D Thompson,
  2. E A Mitchell,
  3. for the New Zealand Cot Death Study Group
  1. Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
    Prof. E Mitchell
    Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand; e.mitchell{at}


Background: Mortality from SIDS has declined since the recommendation that infants are not placed prone to sleep. SIDS mortality is higher in infants born preterm than those born at term.

Aim: To determine if risk factors for SIDS are any different for preterm and term infants.

Methods: Mortality data over time were used to determine whether the reduction in SIDS mortality rates had occurred equally in term and preterm infants. Data from two New Zealand studies (a case-control study and a case-cohort study) were used to determine if any differences existed in risk factors for SIDS between term and preterm infants before and after the SIDS prevention campaign.

Results: SIDS mortality appears to have decreased by similar proportions in term and preterm infants. Risk factors for SIDS were similar in preterm and term infants, except for parity where there was a significant interaction. Increasing parity was a risk factor for SIDS in term infants but not preterm infants.

Conclusion: SIDS rates have decreased at comparable rates in term and preterm infants, but preterm birth still remains a risk factor for SIDS. The magnitude of the odds ratios associated with modifiable risk factors were similar for both groups. There may however be a difference in risk associated with parity between term and preterm infants. The messages for risk factors for SIDS are applicable to mothers of preterm as well as term infants.

  • SIDS
  • preterm
  • risk factors
  • parity

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 4 May 2005

  • Funding: The study was supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay Medical Research Foundation. Dr Thompson and Professor Mitchell are supported by the Child Health Research Foundation.

  • Competing interests: none

Linked Articles

  • Atoms
    Howard Bauchner