Although the burden of sudden death in a pediatric population was low, most incidences of sudden cardiac arrest occurred in children aged younger than 1 year, results from a population-based analysis suggested.
Researchers for the ongoing Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study evaluated data from residents of Multnomah County who underwent sudden cardiac arrest. The researchers included 33 children who met the criteria for sudden cardiac arrest. Data were obtained from the emergency medical response system, the county medical examiner’s office and 16 area hospitals.
The pediatric annual incidence rate per 100,000 population was 1.7 (95% CI, 1.1-2.3) and was 7.5 (95% CI, 5.1-10.5) per 100,000 children. Most sudden deaths (n=25) occurred in children aged younger than 1 year. Pediatric sudden cardiac arrests accounted for 2.8% of all sudden cardiac arrests reported during the study period. The researchers also reported that 23 cases (92%) met the criteria for sudden infant death syndrome. There was a trend toward predominance in female children for the occurrence of SIDS (P=.53). Among cases of SIDS, smoking in the home was reported in 41% of the patients (although smoking circumstances were unknown in another 41% of the patients).
“In this population-based study, the overall incidence of pediatric sudden death was low, but SIDS constituted the majority of sudden deaths in children,” the researchers concluded. “Population education to prevent SIDS and emphasis on the role of enhanced postnatal evaluation to diagnose occult heart disease are the two interventions that may have the greatest impact on prevention of sudden death in children.”