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Caffeine May Contribute to SIDS


February 1998

Women who drink more than four cups of coffee a day while pregnant appear more likely to have babies that will succumb to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to a report published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. SIDS kills nearly 3,000 American infants a year, and is the leading cause of death among those between one month and one year old (P.K. Ford, et al., "Heavy caffeine intake in pregnancy and sudden infant death syndrome," Archives of Disease in Childhood, January 1998, vol. 78, no. 1; "Caffeine May Contribute to Infant Deaths," Los Angeles Times (Washington Edition), January 28, 1998, p. A9).

The risk includes all teas and colas containing caffeine. Researchers had previously linked caffeine with interfering in the development of embryos, producing miscarriages, low birth weight, withdrawal symptoms and breathing problems.

Researchers interviewed parents with SIDS babies and parents with healthy infants. Researchers said caffeine may stimulate the baby's respiratory system unnaturally. When this effect is withdrawn at birth, the child's respiratory system may be susceptible to infection and other stresses.

Dr. Al Steinschneider of the American SIDS Institute said the findings are not surprising. "Caffeine is a drug ... and it has an effect on the fetus as well as on the mother," he said.

American SIDS Institute - 6065 Roswell Road, Suite 876, Atlanta, GA 30328, Tel: (404) 843-1030, Fax: (404) 843-0577, E-mail: <>.

Archives of Disease in Childhood - <>.