Is ambient air pollution associated with onset of sudden infant death syndrome: a case-crossover study in the UK

Ian Litchfield, Jouni Jaakkola, Jonathan Ayres, Nuredin Mohammed

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Objectives: Air pollution has been associated with increased mortality and morbidity in several studies with indications that its effect could be more severe in children. This study examined the relationship between short-term
variations in criteria air pollutants and occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Design: We used a case-crossover study design which is widely applied in air pollution studies and particularly useful for estimating the risk of a rare acute outcome associated with short-term exposure.

Setting: The study used data from the West Midlands region in the UK.

Participants: We obtained daily time series data on SIDS mortality (ICD-9: 798.0 or ICD-10: R95) for the period 1996–2006 with a total of 211 SIDS events.

Primary outcome measures: Daily counts of SIDS events.

Results: For an IQR increase in previous day pollutant concentration, the percentage increases (95% CI) in SIDS were 16 (6 to 27) for PM10, 1 (−7 to 10) for SO2, 5 (−4 to 14) for CO, −17 (−27 to –6) for O3, 16 (2 to 31) for NO2 and
2 (−3 to 8) for NO after controlling for average temperature and national holidays. PM10 and NO2 showed relatively consistent association which persisted across different lag structures and after adjusting for copollutants.

Conclusions: The results indicated ambient air pollutants, particularly PM10 and NO2, may show an association with increased SIDS mortality. Thus, future studies are recommended to understand possible mechanistic explanations on the role of air pollution on SIDS incidence and the ways in which we might reduce pollution exposure among infants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ open
Issue number4
Early online date12 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2018


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