Association between sudden infant death syndrome and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis immunisation: an ecological study

BMC Pediatr. 2015 Jan 28;15(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s12887-015-0318-7.


Background: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) continues to be one of the main causes of infant mortality in the United States. The objective of this study was to analyse the association between diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) immunisation and SIDS over time.

Methods: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the number of cases of SIDS and live births per year (1968-2009), allowing the calculation of SIDS mortality rates. Immunisation coverage was based on (1) the United States Immunization Survey (1968-1985), (2) the National Health Interview Survey (1991-1993), and (3) the National Immunization Survey (1994-2009). We used sleep position data from the National Infant Sleep Position Survey. To determine the time points at which significant changes occurred and to estimate the annual percentage change in mortality rates, we performed joinpoint regression analyses. We fitted a Poisson regression model to determine the association between SIDS mortality rates and DTP immunisation coverage (1975-2009).

Results: SIDS mortality rates increased significantly from 1968 to 1971 (+27% annually), from 1971 to 1974 (+47%), and from 1974 to 1979 (+3%). They decreased from 1979 to 1991 (-1%) and from 1991 to 2001 (-8%). After 2001, mortality rates remained constant. DTP immunisation coverage was inversely associated with SIDS mortality rates. We observed an incidence rate ratio of 0.92 (95% confidence interval: 0.87 to 0.97) per 10% increase in DTP immunisation coverage after adjusting for infant sleep position.

Conclusions: Increased DTP immunisation coverage is associated with decreased SIDS mortality. Current recommendations on timely DTP immunisation should be emphasised to prevent not only specific infectious diseases but also potentially SIDS.

MeSH terms

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sudden Infant Death / epidemiology*
  • Supine Position
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*


  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine