Objective. To examine the possible role of weather and air pollution in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation.

Methods. Poisson regression analysis was carried out to measure the association between daily rates of SIDS per 1000 live births and daily average values of visibility and temperature in Taiwan between 1981 and 1991. The optimetrical measure of air pollution was used to represent pollution over a whole area rather than at a point source.

Results. Mortality from SIDS per 1000 live births was 3.3 times greater in the lowest category of visibility on the day of death than in the highest category; this rate ratio was 3.4 for the average visibility during the 9 days before death. Adjustment for population size, season, level of urbanization, incidence of deaths from respiratory tract infections, temperature, air pressure, sunshine, rainfall, relative humidity, and windspeed increased these rate ratios to 3.8 and 5.1, respectively. This suggests that the relationship between air pollution and SIDS is not biased by ecological confounders. For temperature the rate ratios were between 3.3 and 4.0.

Conclusions. Our findings confirm the association of climatic temperature and air pollution with SIDS.

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