Characteristics of the infant thermal environment in the control population of a case-control study of SIDS.
Ponsonby AL., Dwyer T., Cochrane JA., Gibbons LE., Jones ME.
This report examines the thermal environment during last sleep of a control population to investigate how the thermal environment of the infant's bedroom varies by season, external temperature and by certain maternal and infant characteristics. Two age-matched control infants were chosen for each case, one of which was also matched on birthweight. The home visits were not pre-arranged and were matched on climatic conditions, time of year and time period of day for the index case. The initial response rate for controls (n = 108) was 86%. Although there was a large amount of variation in the infant thermal environment, thermal insulation correlated with room temperature (r = -0.44, P = 0.0001) and external temperature (r = -0.30, P = 0.002). The thermal environment of the infant, as defined by excess thermal insulation for room temperature, did not vary by indoor or outdoor temperature, but higher average values were observed in teenage mothers (mean difference = 2.7 tog [95% Cl = 0.3, 5.2]), infants who slept in an adult bed (mean difference = 2.6 tog [-0.1, 5.4]) and infants with an illness (mean difference = 0.8 tog [-0.3, 1.9]). There was a tendency for the thermal environment of infants to be higher and more variable during winter, supporting previous hypotheses that paradoxical overheating may occur in some infants during winter. Further work is required to provide a set of recommendations on the optimal thermal conditions for post-neonatal infants.