Aim: To evaluate the incidence of neonatal apparent life-threatening events and sudden unexpected deaths during the first 2 h after birth.
Methods: A prospective study was conducted over a 1-year period in all the maternities of the French region of Provence, Alpes, Côte d'Azur, which included all presumably healthy full-term neonates. Twenty-three previously published cases were also studied in order to identify possible risk factors.
Results: Sixty two thousand nine hundred sixty-eight live births were recorded over the study period. There were two neonatal apparent life-threatening events and no neonatal sudden unexpected death. The overall rate of neonatal apparent life-threatening events and unexpected deaths was thus 0.032 per 1000 live births. Three potential risk factors were identified: skin-to-skin contact, primiparous mother and mother and baby alone in the delivery room.
Conclusion: A neonatal apparent life-threatening event or sudden unexpected death during the first 2 h of life is very uncommon. Skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant left alone in the delivery room may constitute the main risk situation. This must not lead to reconsider skin-to-skin contact that has been proven beneficial and seems per se almost safe, but must induce maternity staff to pay particular attention to a skin-to skin infant when left alone with its mother.