|The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance||1314 Bedford Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21208
TO: Affiliate Presidents and Executive Directors
FROM: Phipps Cohe, National Public Affairs Director
RE: NEW STUDY LINKS INCREASED SIDS RISK
TO HEAVY CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION
Caffeine and SIDS
Results of a study of caffeine consumption by pregnant and nursing women indicate that SIDS risk increases when caffeine levels exceed four cups--or 400 milligrams--per day. This case-control study is based on a nationwide survey of parents of 393 SIDS victims and parents of 1,592 control infants. The study, titled "Heavy Caffeine Intake in Pregnancy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," appears in the February 1998 issue of the British journal Archives of Disease in Childhood. Preliminary results of the study, conducted by RFK Ford, PJ Schluter, EA Mitchell, BJ Taylor, R Scragg AW Stewart and the New Zealand Cot Death Study Group, were first reported at the SIDS International Conference in Bethesda, Maryland in June 1996.
Doctors have long advised pregnant women to restrict their caffeine intake based on data linking caffeine consumption to miscarriage and low birth weight. According to the study's lead investigator, Dr. Rodney Ford, of the Community Child and Family Service in Christchurch, New Zealand, excessive caffeine intake may have a stimulant effect on a baby's respiratory system which may interfere with the baby's "respiratory drive," leaving the infant inadequate to meet sudden demands for more oxygen.
This study is the first to link heavy caffeine consumption to SIDS risk, and its authors acknowledge the need for further studies to confirm their findings. John Kattwinkel, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and a member of the SIDS Task Force of the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against jumping to the conclusion that caffeine is a cause of SIDS, but adds that additional research may indicate that it might play a role as a possible risk factor. He concludes that "there is, however, enough evidence here to caution people against excessive intake."
For more information, or to request a copy of the study, contact the SIDS Alliance national office at 1.800.221.7437.
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