Age at death, season, and day of death as indicators of the effect of the back to sleep program on sudden infant death syndrome in the United States, 1992-1999

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Apr;158(4):359-65. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.158.4.359.


Background: In June 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Infant Positioning and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) made its first recommendation concerning placing infants in a supine position. Since the publication of this recommendation, SIDS rates in the United States have declined 44%. Before this recommendation, SIDS had a marked seasonal pattern and was noted to occur more frequently on weekends.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if significant changes in SIDS rates have occurred in age at death (0-27 days vs 1-6 months vs 7-11 months), season of death, and weekday of death since the implementation of the recommendations for supine positioning of infants for sleep.

Design: United States natality and mortality data were used for the years 1992 through 1994. United States linked infant birth and death certificate files were used for the years 1995 through 1999. Season of death was calculated from month of death and was ordered for analysis from winter to fall to spring to summer; day of death was ordered from Monday to Sunday and additionally analyzed as weekend (Saturday and Sunday) vs weekday (Monday through Friday).

Results: During the 8 years, 28 548 deaths were attributed to SIDS among residents of the United States. The average annual decrease in the SIDS rate for neonates aged 0 to 27 days was 6.6%; for infants aged 1 to 6 months, 9.0%; and for infants aged 7 to 11 months, 6.1%. The average decline in seasonal rates from winter to summer was 11.2% per season. A significant interaction between year of death and season indicated a diminishing rate of seasonal variation. The odds ratio for weekend vs weekday SIDS deaths was 0.98 (95% confidence interval, 0.96-1.01). There was no significant interaction between year of death and weekday of death, which indicates no change in the relationship since the implementation of the supine sleeping recommendations.

Conclusions: These data provide insights into the effect of the supine sleep recommendations on SIDS. The reduction in seasonal variation of SIDS suggests advantages conferred by supine sleeping in colder seasons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Death Certificates
  • Educational Status
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Odds Ratio
  • Periodicity*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Seasons*
  • Sudden Infant Death / epidemiology*
  • Sudden Infant Death / prevention & control*
  • Supine Position
  • United States / epidemiology