Skip to content

Jeff Sutherland

Twice the Energy with Half the Stress

Viruses Related to SIDS

It is a good idea to regularly scan for viral infections. In combination with a suppressed immune system, a parasite, or restrictions on breathing, they can be deadly.

New Virus Suspected in Two SIDS Cases

Wed Sep 1, 6:33 PM ET


MILWAUKEE – A virus recently discovered in Japan is suspected in two “crib deaths” in Wisconsin, raising new questions about how many of these mysterious tragedies might be caused by germs.

The cases mark the first time the virus has been identified in the United States. Whether it killed the babies is not clear, but both were sick before they died and had signs of disease in their lungs.

Sudden infant death syndrome — also called “crib death” for the devastating way it is usually discovered — is a catch-all term for unexplained deaths in children less than a year old. About 2,200 occur each year in the United States, mostly involving babies between 2 and 4 months old.

Brain or breathing abnormalities, genetic mutations and birth defects are possible causes. The risk rises if babies live with smokers, are put to sleep on their stomachs, or are bundled in too many clothes or covers.

Infections also have long been implicated. However, many SIDS victims are not tested for viruses that might be the culprit.

The Wisconsin cases should prompt research into whether SIDS is often caused by the newly discovered type of virus, said Dr. Mark Pallansch, who identified it at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a Milwaukee virologist detected it.