Objective: To describe the relationship between climatic temperature and the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for the Australian States and examine the extent to which differences in climatic temperature might explain the regional variation of SIDS in Australia.
Design: Case series study. A generalised linear model was used to model the association between monthly average temperature and the incidence of SIDS.
Setting: The report is population based. Data are available from all Australian States.
Subjects: Cases of SIDS from birth to less than 12 months of age occurring in Queensland (1981-1987), New South Wales (1981-1987), Victoria (1984-1987), Tasmania (1975-1989), South Australia (1980-1989), and Western Australia (1980-1988).
Results: Every one degree Celsius decrease in average monthly temperature within the range 9 degrees C to 25 degrees C is associated with a 10.6% (95% confidence interval, 9.6%-11.7%) increase in the incidence of SIDS. Climatic temperature accounts for 84% of the interstate variation in the rate of SIDS. After controlling for the effect of temperature, a significant overall difference in SIDS incidence remains (P less than 0.0001) for the Australian States.
Conclusion: Climatic temperature accounts for most but not all of the regional variation of SIDS incidence in the Australian States. The remaining variation may reflect differences in the maternal and infant characteristics of the State populations.