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Bacterial Infection May Boost SIDS Risk
Date:5/29/2008

Study found higher levels of staph, E. coli in babies who died from unexplained causes

THURSDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Could common bacterial infections cause some cases of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS?

According to the British authors of a study in this week's issue of The Lancet, the answer is a qualified yes. The researchers found high levels of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in children who had died of SIDS.

But in no way does this mean that parents should be demanding antibiotics for their newborns, cautioned Dr. Jim Greenberg, director of the division of neonatology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "This still falls under the category of preliminary research and doesn't have any direct application to how we think about patient care," he said.

"As yet, we do not understand the true significance of the findings," added Dr. Nigel Klein, co-author of the study and professor of infectious disease and immunology and head of the department of infection at the University of London and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in the United Kingdom. "At present, a causal link has not been established. As such, there are no direct clinical implications."

According to the American SIDS Institute, the rate of SIDS has dropped dramatically since 1983, thanks to concerted prevention efforts on the part of a number of organizations. However, about 2,500 infants still die of SIDS every year in the United States.

The causes largely remain a mystery, although putting a baby to sleep on his or her back and avoiding smoking near the child are known to be protective.

Klein and his colleagues conducted autopsies on 546 infants who had died suddenly between the ages of 7 and 365 days. Samples of bacteria were taken from 470 of the infants.

Many more potentially harmful organisms were isolated from children whose s
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