Authors: Mitchell EA, Thompson JM, Zuccollo J, MacFarlane M, Taylor B, Elder D, Stewart AW, Percival T, Baker N, McDonald GK, Lawton B, Schlaud M, Fleming P
N Z Med J. 2017 Jun 02;130(1456):52-64
BACKGROUND: Despite a major reduction in overall infant mortality, sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) continues to be of concern in New Zealand, as the rate is high by international standards, and is even higher in indigenous MÄori.
AIM: To identify modifiable risk factors for SUDI.
METHODS: A three-year (1 March 2012-28 February 2015) nationwide case-control study was conducted in New Zealand.
RESULTS: There were 137 SUDI cases, giving a SUDI mortality rate of 0.76/1,000 live births. The rate for MÄori was 1.41/1,000, Pacific 1.01/1,000 and non-MÄori non-Pacific (predominantly European) 0.50/1,000. The parent(s) of 97% of the SUDI cases were interviewed. Six hundred and forty-nine controls were selected and 258 (40%) were interviewed. The two major risk factors for SUDI were: maternal smoking in pregnancy (adjusted OR=6.01, 95% CI=2.97, 12.15) and bed sharing (aOR=4.96, 95% CI=2.55, 9.64). There was a significant interaction (p=0.002) between bed sharing and antenatal maternal smoking. Infants exposed to both risk factors had a markedly increased risk of SUDI (aOR=32.8, 95% CI=11.2, 95.8) compared with infants not exposed to either risk factor. Infants not sharing the parental bedroom were also at increased risk of SUDI (aOR=2.77, 95% CI=1.45, 5.30). Just 21 cases over the three-year study were not exposed to smoking in pregnancy, bed sharing or front or side sleeping position.
CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown that many of the risk factors that were identified in the original New Zealand Cot Death Study (1987-1989) are still relevant today. The combination of maternal smoking in pregnancy and bed sharing is extremely hazardous for infants. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the SUDI prevention messages are still applicable today and should be reinforced. SUDI mortality could be reduced to just seven p.a. in New Zealand (approximately one in 10,000 live births).