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Ambient Heat and Sudden Infant Death: A Case-Crossover Study Spanning 30 Years in Montreal, Canada.

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    • Abstract:
      BACKGROUND: Climate change may lead to more severe and extreme heat waves in the future, but its potential impact on sudden infant death--a leading cause of infant mortality--is unclear. OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine whether risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is elevated during hot weather. METHODS: We undertook a case-crossover analysis of all sudden infant deaths during warm periods in metropolitan Montreal, Quebec, Canada, from 1981 through 2010. Our analysis included a total of 196 certified cases of SIDS, including 89 deaths at 1-2 months of age, and 94 at 3-12 months. We estimated associations between maximum outdoor temperatures and SIDS by comparing outdoor temperatures on the day of or day before a SIDS event with temperatures on control days during the same month, using cubic splines to model temperature and adjusting for relative humidity. RESULTS: Maximum daily temperatures of > 29°C on the same day were associated with 2.78 times greater odds of sudden infant death relative to 20°C (95% CI: 1.64, 4.70). The likelihood of sudden death increased steadily with higher temperature. Associations were stronger for infants 3-12 months of age than for infants 1-2 months of age, with odds ratios of 3.90 (95% CI: 1.87, 8.13) and 1.73 (95% CI: 0.80, 3.73), respectively, for 29°C compared with 20°C on the day of the event. CONCLUSIONS: High ambient temperature may be a novel risk factor for SIDS, especially at > 3 months of age. Climate change and the higher temperatures that result may account for a potentially greater proportion of sudden infant deaths in the future. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]