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Parental Mental Illness Found to Affect Risk of SIDS

Last Updated: January 05, 2010.

The risk of sudden infant death syndrome is higher among babies whose parents have undergone inpatient psychiatric care, particularly if both parents have been hospitalized or if an alcohol or drug disorder was diagnosed, according to a study in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

TUESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is higher among babies whose parents have undergone inpatient psychiatric care, particularly if both parents have been hospitalized or if an alcohol or drug disorder was diagnosed, according to a study in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Roger T. Webb, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data on the Swedish population from 1978 through 2004, on 2.5 million singleton live births.

The incidence of SIDS was higher if either of the parents had previously been admitted to the hospital for psychiatric care, and the risk was even higher if both parents had been hospitalized, the researchers discovered. The risk persisted even if maternal hospitalization for psychiatric care occurred five years or more before the birth of the child, while smoking and individual social adversity were the cause of approximately half the excess risk associated with mothers who had a history of inpatient psychiatric treatment from 1992 through 2004, the investigators found.

"Standard SIDS risk reduction messages appear to be ineffective in reaching the most vulnerable families, including those with serious parental mental illness," the authors write. "Professionals working in mental health, child health, and primary care should strive to provide continuing support to affected parents to help them take advantage of this advice. In particular, parents should be strongly encouraged and supported to stop smoking at antenatal booking and afterward."

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