Background: The incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has been falling in Germany over the last decade. However, little is known about the prevalence and the importance of well-known risk factors in Germany since a local prevention campaign in 1992.
Design: A 3-y, population-based, case-control study was conducted in half of Germany, consisting of 333 cases. All sudden and unexpected deaths in infancy, if they fitted the inclusion criteria, were included in the study. Parental interview was carried out soon after the death, and three living control infants, matched for age, gender, region and sleep time, were recruited.
Results: The prevalence of placing infants prone to sleep was only 4% in the control group, but this was associated with a markedly increased risk of SIDS (adjusted odds ration, aOR=6.08). Other modifiable risk factors for SIDS were: maternal smoking during pregnancy, breastfeeding for less than 2 wk (aOR=1.71) and co-sleeping (aOR=2.71), while using a pacifier during the last sleep reduced the risk (aOR=0.39).
Conclusions: Previously recognized risk factors for SIDS also occur in Germany. Despite knowledge about the major modifiable risk factors for SIDS, these factors are still present in Germany. To reduce the incidence of SIDS in Germany, a continued effort is needed to inform all parents about preventable risk factors for SIDS.