A mom’s heavy drinking may be tied to sudden infant death, according to a new study. Each year in the United States, about 4,500 infants die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), defined as the sudden and unexpected death of an infant with no obvious cause. Previous studies have linked SIDS with smoking and unsafe environments, but until now, few studies have examined a link between SIDS and alcohol.
Researchers from Curtin University in Perth, Australia, studied over 77,000 women who gave birth between 1983 and 2005. They found that about one in six sudden infant deaths may be linked to a mother’s drinking. This may be due to alcohol exposure pre-birth but the link is not entirely explained by biology. Overall, babies born to heavy drinkers had a seven-fold increase in dying from SIDS, and drinking during pregnancy was linked to a doubled risk of SIDS. Babies born to mothers who drank within the year after birth had a nine-fold increased risk of SIDS, suggesting that SIDS may also be related to a hazardous environment caused by drinking.