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Low Blood Pressure May Raise SIDS Risk in Preterm Infants

Low blood pressure, anemia and cardiovascular abnormalities examined as risk factors

MONDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- An increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in preterm infants may be due to lowered blood pressure compared with term infants, according to data reported in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Nicole B. Witcombe, and colleagues at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, investigated the increased risk of SIDS in a longitudinal study of 25 preterm and 20 term infants. They used daytime polysomnography and photoplethysmography to study the effect of preterm birth on heart rate and blood pressure control over the first six months of life.

The findings indicate that significantly lowered blood pressure among preterm babies during quiet sleep and active sleep, especially at 2 to 3 months' term-corrected age, compared to both 2 to 4 weeks' and 5 to 6 months', along with reduced oxygen carrying capacity may adversely affect oxygen delivery to critical organs, thereby raising the risk of SIDS.

"Additional studies examining baroreflex responses and cardiovascular variability during sleep are required to further understand whether preterm infants have impaired cardiovascular control during the early postnatal period. These studies may further explain the mechanisms involved in the increased risk for SIDS associated with preterm birth and the impact that this may have on the cardiovascular system later in life," the authors conclude.

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