(dailyRx News) The number of infants who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) increases by some 33 percent on New Year's Day.
That's according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, San Diego, which indicates caretakers' and parents' alcohol consumption the night before might be to blame. SIDS ranks as the leading cause of death for children aged 1 month to 1 year.
In what is the first large-scale U.S. study of its kind, researchers looked at 129,090 SIDS cases from 1973 to 2006 using three sets of data: computerized death certificates, the linked birth- and infant-death dataset, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Researchers found three types of evidence linking SIDS to alcohol: Babies of mothers who drink are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS; SIDS rates spike just after April 20 (or 4/20), a counterculture celebration of cannabis, and after July 4, a traditional American holiday sometimes involving copious amounts of beer, wine and spirits.
The study can't point definitively to alcohol consumption as a cause of SIDS, said UCSD sociologist David Phillips. But the connections are concerning, he added.
"We know that when people are under the influence of alcohol their judgments are impaired and they are not as good at performing tasks," Phillips said. "This would include caretaking."
SIDS claims the lives of 7,000 babies every year in the United States. That's more infant fatalities than are caused by cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, child abuse, AIDS, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy combined.