Bacteria That Causes Stomach Ulcers: A Culprit in SIDS?
An H. pylori connection is still preliminary, Kerr agrees. He stresses that although these findings underscore the value of good hygiene in infant care, parents should not be alarmed by the findings, because of the study's preliminary nature. "Although we have found a significant prevalence of H. pylori in SIDS cases versus controls, the numbers are small and [the data] need to be repeated and confirmed independently," he tells WebMD.
The suspicion that H. pylori may play a role in SIDS has been gaining the attention of epidemiologists for some time, though, according to Kerr.
Subsequent studies will show whether H. pylori has a role in SIDS, Bradley Thatch, MD, tells WebMD. "These findings are very preliminary," he says. "Worldwide, many infants get H. pylori, as many as 70% to 80% in developing countries, and most don't die from SIDS. If this bacterium is a factor, it would combine with a number of other risk factors." Thatch, who was not involved in the current research, is a professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and served as a co-author of the SIDS Alliance's response to the current research.
Still, "this study is the first confirmatory research that has been published showing the link between H. pylori and SIDS," Philip Pattison, MD, tells WebMD. "The study is excellent. I don't think that H. pylori by itself is enough to explain SIDS across the board. However, it makes the back-to-sleep position all the more urgent, because if an infected infant regurgitates, the material will be more likely to fall back into the esophagus than in the trachea." Pattison, who also was not involved in the current research, is a gastroenterologist and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He and his colleagues had conducted the original research that gave rise to the H. pylori hypothesis.