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Sudden infant death syndrome in infants born to HIV-infected and opiate-using mothers
  1. Christian Kahlert1,
  2. Christoph Rudin2,
  3. Christian Kind3
  1. 1
    University Children’s Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland
  2. 2
    University Children’s Hospital, Basel, Switzerland
  3. 3
    Ostschweizer Kinderspital, St. Gallen, Switzerland
  1. Christian Kind, Ostschweizer Kinderspital, CH-9006 St. Gallen, Switzerland; christian.kind{at}


Objective: This study was undertaken to determine the role of opiate use during pregnancy as a predisposing factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in infants born to HIV-infected mothers.

Methods: In order to identify all infant deaths and their cause and association with maternal opiate use, the data of a nationwide prospective cohort study of HIV-infected mothers and their children were extracted and analysed for a 13-year period.

Results: 24 (5.1%) infant deaths were observed out of 466 infants followed up until death or at least 12 months of life. 3 (0.6%) of them were due to non-accidental trauma and were not associated with maternal opiate use. 7 (1.5%) died due to SIDS, which was confirmed by autopsy. All SIDS cases occurred in infants born to mothers reporting use of opiates during pregnancy (n = 124). The relative risk of SIDS compared to the general population was 18 (95% CI 9 to 38) for all infants of HIV-infected mothers, and 69 (95% CI 33 to 141) for those with intrauterine opiate exposure (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Compared to the Swiss general population, the risk for SIDS in this cohort of infants born to HIV-infected mothers was greatly increased, but only for mothers reporting opiate use during pregnancy. This effect appeared not to be mediated by prematurity, low birth weight, perinatal HIV infection or antiretroviral drug exposure.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • The members of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and the Swiss Mother and Child HIV Study are: C Aebi, M Battegay, E Bernasconi, J Böni, H Bucher, Ph Bürgisser, S Cattacin, M Cavassini, J-J Cheseaux, G Drack, R Dubs, M Egger, L Elzi, P Erb, M Fischer, M Flepp, A Fontana, P Francioli (President of the SHCS, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, CH-1011 Lausanne), HJ Furrer, A Gayet-Ageron, S Gerber, M Gorgievski, C Grawe, H Günthard, Th Gyr, H Hirsch, B Hirschel, I Hösli, M Hüsler, L Kaiser, Ch Kahlert, U Karrer, C Kind, Th Klimkait, B Ledergerber, G Martinetti, B Martinez, N Müller, D Nadal, M Opravil, F Paccaud, G Pantaleo, M Rickenbach, C Rudin (Chairman of the MoCHiV Substudy, Basel UKBB, Römergasse 8, CH-4058 Basel), P Schmid, D Schultze, J Schüpbach, R Speck, P Taffé, P Tarr, A Telenti, A Trkola, P Vernazza, R Weber, A Wechsler, D Wunder, C-A Wyler, S Yerly.

  • Abbreviations:
    sudden infant death syndrome