In a population-based study, clinical and physiological data were collected in the neonatal period on 7,496 full-term (≥ 37 weeks) infants of birthweights > 2.50 kg born in 3 hospitals. The sample excluded a small number of infants who were born with severe illnesses from which there was no period of recovery before death in the neonatal period. Twenty-seven of the infants had died by the time all of the population had passed their third birthday. Twenty-one of these cases died suddenly and unexpectedly, and in 13 there was no adequate explanation for death (sudden infant death syndrome – SIDS). Pre- and early postnatal clinical data on the infants who had died were compared to a randomly selected sample of 478 survivors. This analysis showed that the infants who suffered SIDS showed similar clinical characteristics to those previously reported. Unlike the SIDS group, however, the prenatal histories of the non-SIDS deaths were similar to controls, showing no evidence of a sub-optimal intra-uterine environment.

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