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SIDS spikes on New Year's Day
Date:12/15/2010

is as dramatic as on New Year's.

To see if parental sleeping-in might be at fault rather than intoxication itself the authors also checked to see what happens during the autumn shift to daylight savings, when many sleep later because an hour has been added to the day. There was no rise in SIDS, Phillips said.

The authors acknowledge important limitations to the current study. The large datasets contain very little information per case, Phillips said, so "we could not specify the detailed mechanisms and cannot determine whether alcohol is an independent risk factor for SIDS, a risk factor only in conjunction with other factors or a proxy for risks associated with occasions when consumption increases."

The study doesn't, and can't, point definitively to alcohol consumption as a cause of SIDS, but the connections are concerning, Phillips said. He worries that parents may not be as good at parenting following the "Back to Sleep" recommendations, for example when they've been drinking.

"We know that when people are under the influence of alcohol their judgments are impaired and they are not as good at performing tasks. This would include caretaking," Phillips said.

Phillips urges further studies that might shed additional light on the relationship between alcohol and SIDS. Nonetheless, he said, it is not unreasonable even now to suggest that SIDS investigations inquire about the recent alcohol consumption of the infant's caretakers and that pediatricians advise new parents that alcohol impairs their abilities and may endanger their children.

"The 'Back to Sleep' campaign was largely successful," the authors write. "A similar campaign might now be implemented: There should be increased efforts to inform caretakers that alcohol impairs parental capacity and might be a risk factor for SIDS."


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Contact: Inga Kiderra
ikiderra@ucsd.edu
858-822-0661
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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