SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

What is SIDS?

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

Maternal Alcohol and Drug Use

Substance abuse is a particularly challenging issue for public health professionals. Researchers find it nearly impossible to separate maternal substance abuse from other confounding factors that impact the overall health and safety of infants.67

Prenatal illicit drug use has become an increasingly important public health problem during the past two decades. Epidemiologic studies designed to assess the association between substance abuse and adverse pregnancy outcomes have consistently documented higher rates of placental abruption.68

There are studies that have found a higher incidence of SIDS among infants exposed to substance abuse69,70 and other studies that have not seen an increase.71

There is no doubt that substance and alcohol use negatively impacts infant health and safety. The extent of the impact and the short- and long-term consequences continue to be under investigation. While substance and alcohol abuse have been grouped in this brief section, the two issues are very different with respect to medical consequences for infants.

The negative impact of alcohol abuse in utero is indisputable.72,73,74 The AAP, CDC, USPHS and numerous other organizations and nonprofits follow the risk reduction recommendation that women should not drink alcoholic beverages if they intend to become pregnant or are pregnant or nursing.

However, for three decades a relationship between alcohol use and SIDS had not been found. Only very recent research suggests that a link may even exist in certain populations as seen in the Aberdeen study of Native Americans which found that binge drinking was a risk factor for SIDS.