Three studies were undertaken: (i) a nation-wide case-control study for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), with 393 cases and 1592 controls, examined the association between parental reported apnoea and SIDS; (ii) a case-cohort study, with 84 cases of parental reported apnoea and 1502 controls, aimed to identify risk factors for apnoea; and (ii) national hospital admission data for ALTE and national SIDS mortality data were compared for the years 1986 to 1994. Parental reported apnoea was associated with a significant increased risk of SIDS [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.86; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12, 3.09]. The population attributable risk was 8%. There was a significant increased risk for parental reported apnoea in infants who did not die after adjustment for potential confounders with maternal smokers, short gestation and admission to the neonatal unit. There was no association with prone sleeping position, co-sleeping and bottle feeding. The mean annual admission rate for ALTE was 9.4/1000 live births. This did not change significantly over the study period (1986-1994). In contrast, the SIDS mortality rate decreased from over 4/1000 to 2.1/1000. Admission rates were higher for Maori infants and boys.
Conclusion: It may be concluded that the relationship between parental reported apnoea and SIDS is tenuous.