Dr. Warren G. Guntheroth, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, doesn't think low blood pressure is a cause of SIDS. He believes the trouble lies with breathing problems.
"I do not believe there is enough evidence that control of blood pressure is inadequate just because the systolic pressure in preemies is lower than average," Guntheroth said. "This may well be because they are small."
Preemies do have pulmonary problems, of course, and it's likely that this accounts for an increase in SIDS, Guntheroth said. "The pulmonary problems may induce a degree of low oxygen that can increase the frequency of apnea with bradycardia, but that is a very basic response that does not indicate an immaturity of control of the cardiovascular system," he said.
Another SIDS expert also said it's not known whether low blood pressure increases the risk of SIDS.
"The unresolved question is whether these differences in blood pressure have any relevance for the increased risk for SIDS that preterms have -- that's unclear," said Dr. Carl E. Hunt, an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, Md.
"The extent to which the inability to recover normal blood pressure is a precipitating event for SIDS, we have no idea," said Hunt, who's also a director at the American SIDS Institute. "It's difficult to prove and it has not been proven."
For more on SIDS, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Rosemary S.C. Horne, Ph.D., Ritchie Centre for Baby Health Research, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Warren G. Guntheroth, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of
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