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Sudden Infant Deaths Linked to Moms’ Drinking

A new Australian study suggests that mothers who are heavy drinkers of alcohol increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) in infants through alcohol exposure while in the womb. Furthermore, mothers who drink after their babies are born, create environmental risk factors to their children.

SIDS, which is also known as sudden unexpected infant death, is defined by The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the death of a child under one year old with no obvious cause. According to CDC, in the U.S. alone, there are around 4,500 of SIDS cases every year.

The research team led by Colleen O’Leary from Curtin University in Perth analyzed information on more than 75,000 women who gave birth from 1983 to 2005 and compared the number of SIDS and infant death cases in children of mothers diagnosed with drinking problem versus mothers without drinking problem.

The data collected showed that about 22,000 women were heavy drinkers with around 170 related SIDS cases while around 130 SIDS cases were linked to mothers (about 56,000) without drinking problems. According to their analysis, there is a seven-fold increase in the risk of SIDS in infants whose mother drank heavily during pregnancy versus mothers without problems in drinking.  Moreover, mothers who continue to drink alcohol after birth increase the risk of SIDS in infants by nine-fold.

There were a number of causes in children’s death that the team found which includes problems related to exposure to alcohol while in the womb and environmental risks like dehydration, smoke inhalation, infections and neglect.

David Phillips, a professor and who has also studied alcohol-related infant deaths said that a person’s judgment could already be impaired with just a couple of drinks and parents especially single parent should be cautious about drinking alcohol.


Seaman, A. Mom’s drinking tied to infant deaths: study . Reuters.


Posted in: Babies' Health, News Briefs, Pregnancy, Women's Health

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