The German case–control scene investigation study on SIDS: epidemiological approach and main results

  • Martin SchlaudEmail author
  • Maren Dreier
  • Anette S. Debertin
  • Katja Jachau
  • Steffen Heide
  • Birkhild Giebe
  • Jan P. Sperhake
  • Christian F. Poets
  • Werner J. Kleemann
Original Article


The present study, which was part of the German SIDS Study (GeSID), enrolled sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases and population controls and obtained objective scene data via specifically trained observers shortly after discovery of each dead infant. Infants who had died suddenly and unexpectedly at ages between 8 and 365 days were enrolled in five regions of Germany between November 1998 and October 2001. Shortly after discovery of each dead infant, a specially trained doctor of legal medicine visited the bereaved family at home. Data were obtained by measurements and observations. Dead infants underwent a standardised autopsy, additional information being obtained by standardised parent interviews. Investigation of the sleep environment and wake-up scene in matched controls followed the same protocol. A total of 52 SIDS cases and 154 controls were enrolled, 58% were boys, and median age of cases vs. controls was 126 vs. 129 days. Risk factors in the sleeping environment were pillow use (adjusted OR 4.3; 95%CI 1.6–11.6), heavy duvets (OR 4.4; 1.5–13.3), soft underlay (OR 3.0; 1.1–8.7), face covered by bedding (OR 15.8; 2.5–102.1) and entire body covered by bedding (OR 35.5; 5.5–228.3). Using a standardised protocol, including objective measurements of the sleep environment and a case–control design, this study was able to confirm many risk factors for SIDS.


Sudden infant death syndrome Risk factors Sleep environment Germany 



The authors wish to thank all those persons who contributed to this study. We are particularly grateful to all parents who consented to be enrolled and who made this study possible. This study was funded from a grant of the German Federal Ministry of Science and Education (FKZ 01ED9401). This observational epidemiological study was approved by the Ethics Committees of all universities involved.

Conflict of interest statement

All authors declare that there are no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Schlaud
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Maren Dreier
    • 1
  • Anette S. Debertin
    • 3
  • Katja Jachau
    • 4
  • Steffen Heide
    • 5
  • Birkhild Giebe
    • 6
    • 7
  • Jan P. Sperhake
    • 8
  • Christian F. Poets
    • 9
  • Werner J. Kleemann
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Social Medicine, and Health System ResearchHannover Medical SchoolHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Health ReportingRobert Koch InstituteBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of Legal MedicineHannover Medical SchoolHannoverGermany
  4. 4.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany
  5. 5.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of HalleHalleGermany
  6. 6.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of JenaJenaGermany
  7. 7.Department of Forensic Medicine StockholmThe National Board of Forensic MedicineStockholmSweden
  8. 8.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity Medical Centre Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  9. 9.Department of NeonatologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  10. 10.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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