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The nasopharyngeal bacterial flora in babies who had died of the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (n = 46) and in healthy infants aged 2 weeks to 6 months (n = 46) is described. Of those who had died, 41·3 % carried Staphylococcus aureus (95 % confidence limits: 27·3–55·3 %) compared with 28·3 % of healthy infants (95 % confidence limits: 15·3–41·3 %). The isolation rate of streptococci was 78·3 % in cases (95 % confidence limits: 66·4–90·2 %) and 32·6 % in healthy infants (95 % confidence limits: 19·1–46·1 %) (significant difference P < 0·0001). Enterobacteria were isolated from 45·6% of cases (95% confidence limits: 31·2–60%) but only 2·2% of healthy infants (95 % confidence limits 0–6·4 %) (significant difference, P < 0·0001). These results indicate a disordered nasopharyngeal flora in SIDS. They also provide baseline data for investigating the hypothesis that common bacterial toxins are involved in the pathogenesis of SIDS.
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Accepted: November 9, 1988
Part of this study was supported by Project Grant no. 65 from the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.
© 1989 The British Society for the Study of Infection. Published by Elsevier Inc.