More American babies die in the winter from sudden infant death syndrome, the leading cause of death in children under 1 year old, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. SIDS is the sudden death of an infant under 12 months of age that remains unexplained even after an investigation that includes an autopsy, inspection of the death scene and a review of the child's complete medical history.
Public health researchers studied records of 112,804 infants who died in the U.S. between 1980 and 1987. They found the risk for SIDS was greater for black infants than for whites and higher for males than for females. CDC officials say that they don't believe there is a racial component to the syndrome, and that SIDS crosses all racial and socioeconomic boundaries. At highest risk were those between 1 and 4 months old.
Although infants at risk for sudden infant death syndrome cannot be identified early, researchers said that several factors happen to be associated with higher risk. They include medical complications of pregnancy and delivery, especially multiple births, and cold weather, when exposure to viruses and other infections peaks. The risk of SIDS was twice as high in January as in July.