SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Risk Doubles At High Altitudes Interview with:
David Katz, MD

Divisions of Cardiology, and Neonatology,
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, Colorado

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Katz: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of infant mortality in the US between 1 month and 1 year of life.  This is the first large study to demonstrate an association between high altitude and SIDS.  In particular there is a doubling of risk above 8,000 feet of elevation relative to below 6,000 feet.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Katz: There is an association between high altitude residence and Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  The reason for this association is still unknown, but hypoxia may be the common link.  While the population living above 8000 feet is small in the US, it is large worldwide.  Better understanding this association is of great medical importance.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Parents living above 8,000 feet should make every effort to minimize the risk of SIDS by focusing on the established risk factors for SIDS.  Among other things, putting a baby on its back to sleep every time it sleeps, avoiding blankets, bumper pads and stuffed animals in the crib, avoiding co-sleeping, and keeping the infant’s environment smoke-free.  The absolute risk of SIDS is low, even above 8,000 feet, and our research does NOT support abandoning high altitude residences.  We hope that this study will make families residing at altitude, and the physicians counseling them, increasingly vigilant about the known risk factors for SIDS in order to minimize risk.  Further research is needed to understand the reason for the association between altitude and SIDS.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Residential Altitude

Pediatrics. 2015 May 25. pii: peds.2014-2697. [Epub ahead of print]

Katz D1, Shore S2, Bandle B3, Niermeyer S4, Bol KA5, Khanna A6.

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David Katz, MD, Divisions of Cardiology, and Neonatology,, University of Colorado School of Medicine, & Aurora, Colorado (2015). SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Risk Doubles At High Altitudes 

Last Updated on May 31, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD