Aspiration of Gastric Contents in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome without Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

      Objectives

      (1) To compare demographic profiles among sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) infants with or without gastric aspiration, for whom cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) had not been attempted; (2) to review the severity and potential significance of aspiration in those SIDS cases; and (3) to assess the risk of supine sleep position with regard to gastric aspiration.

      Study design

      Retrospective review of records and microscopic slides for all postneonatal SIDS cases (29 to 365 days of age) accessioned by the San Diego County Medical Examiner from 1991 to 2004.

      Results

      Ten (14%) of 69 cases of SIDS infants who had not undergone CPR before autopsy revealed microscopic evidence of gastric aspiration into the distal lung; this group was not otherwise clinically or pathologically different from cases of SIDS infants without aspiration. Similar proportions of infants were found supine or prone, regardless of gastric aspiration.

      Conclusions

      Gastric aspiration is not uncommon in infants dying of SIDS, and supine sleep position does not increase its risk. Gastric aspiration may be a terminal event that some infants, representing a subset of SIDS cases, cannot overcome.

      Abbreviations:

      ALTEs ( Apparent life-threatening events), CPR ( Cardiopulmonary resuscitation), GER ( Gastroesophageal reflux), SIDS ( Sudden infant death syndrome)
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