Intestinal Microbiota Composition in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Age-Matched Controls

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ObjectiveTo assess whether features of the infant intestinal microbiome, including the carriage of toxigenic bacteria, are associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).Study designWe undertook a case-controlled analysis of fecal microbiology in SIDS. Fecal material was obtained from 44 cases and 44 aged-matched controls. Microbiota composition was determined by 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing and comparisons between cases and controls made based on both bacterial alpha diversity measures and unconstrained ordination. Specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays were used to determine intestinal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus, toxigenic Clostridium difficile, and pathogenic and nonpathogenic Escherichia coli.ResultsThe microbial composition for the study population as a whole was consistent with previous studies of infants <12 months of age, with a correlation between alpha diversity and age (r2 = 0.08; P = .007). However, no difference was observed in alpha diversity between SIDS cases and controls (P > .4). Nonmetric multidimensional scaling also revealed no evidence of differences in microbiota dispersal between SIDS cases and controls (P = .4, permutational multivariate ANOVA test; Pseudo-F = 0.9), nor was a difference observed in microbiota dispersion (P = .19, PERMDISP test; F = 1.9). There were no significant intergroup differences in the carriage of S aureus, toxigenic C difficile, total E coli, or pathogenic E coli.ConclusionsWe found no evidence of an association between altered intestinal microbiology and SIDS, or to support the development of strategies to reduce the incidence of SIDS that target intestinal microbiology.

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