HealthDay News — Greater variation in the risk profile for sudden infant death system has occurred since the  initiation of the Back-to-Sleep campaign in 1994, study data indicate.

“Risk reduction campaigns emphasizing the importance of avoiding multiple and simultaneous SIDS risks are essential to prevent SIDS, including among infants who may already be vulnerable,” Felicia Trachtenberg, PhD, from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Mass., and colleagues reported in Pediatrics.

To determine whether the risk profile for SIDS have changed since the Back-to-School campaign was initiated, Trachtenberg and colleagues investigated the intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for SIDS following the campaign’s initiation, using data from the San Diego SIDS/Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood Research Project. A total of 568 SIDs deaths occurred from 1991 to 2008.

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During this time period, the number of infants with SIDS found in a prone sleeping position decreased from 84.0% to 48.5% (P < .001), as well as the proportion of SIDS infants with upper respiratory infections (46.6% to 24.8%; P < .001).

Despite these improvements, the proportion of SIDS infants found bed-sharing increased from 19.2% to 37.9% (P < .001), especially among infants younger than two months (29.0% vs 63.8%), and the proportion of those who were premature (20%-29%; P=0.05), significantly increased.

The researchers determined that 99% of SIDS infants had at least one identifiable risk factor, and 57% had at least two extrinsic and one intrinsic risk factors. Only 5% of SIDS infants had no extrinsic risk factor. Following initiation of the Back-to-Sleep campaign, there was no change in the average number of risk factors per SIDS infant.

Trachtenberg FL et al. Pediatrics. 2012;doi:10.1542/peds.2011-1419.