Widening Social Inequalities in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Diane S. Lauderdale, University of Chicago
Kate Pickett, York University
Ye Luo, University of Chicago

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of postneonatal infant mortality in the US. Studies have generally found social inequalities and race disparities in risk of SIDS. In 1994, the US Public Health Service launched the “Back to Sleep” campaign, promoting supine sleep position for infants to prevent SIDS. This study asks whether a public health campaign promoting an effective, easy and free intervention reduced social class inequalities. The associations between social class (measured by maternal education) are compared before and after the “Back to Sleep” campaign using the national Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Sets for 1989-1991 and 1996-1998. Although SIDS rates declined (OR=0.57 for 1996-1998 compared to 1989-1991), social inequalities did not decline. In fact, odds ratios for risk of SIDS associated with less maternal education were significantly greater in 1996-1998 than in 1989-1991. The race disparity also increased.

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Presented in Session 110: Infant Mortality and Social Inequality