Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    Narrowed Arteries Implicated in SIDS

    WebMD Health News

    April 29, 2002 -- Researchers have pinpointed at least one reason that may explain why infants are more likely to suffer from sudden infant death syndrome when lying on their stomachs. A new study suggests putting infants to sleep on their stomachs can lead to a potentially dangerous condition that affects blood flow to the brain.

    Researchers say some infants may turn their heads so far to either side while sleeping that it narrows the arteries that supply blood to the brain, known as the vertebral arteries.

    "We found that 71% of the children diagnosed with SIDS and 29% of the other infants had narrowed vertebral arteries when they were put on their stomach and their neck was rotated to the left or right," says study author Stefan Puig, MD, of the University of Vienna in Austria, in a news release.

    Puig presented the study today at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society in Atlanta.

    Although this study suggests that the narrowing of this artery could be a factor in SIDS, researchers say this condition may be dangerous for any infant sleeping on his or her stomach.

    Researchers say infants are able to turn their heads further to the left or right than older children or adults because their ligaments and bone structure are not fully formed and don't limit their movement as much.

    "Our study underlines the possible danger of [stomach] sleeping and supports the recent international efforts encouraging parents to have their infants sleep on their backs," says Puig.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares