Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SIDS update

This month the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine published a study suggesting that using a fan while a baby is sleeping appears to significantly cut the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. 
According to the study, fan use during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in SIDS risk. The reduction in SIDS risk seemed more pronounced in adverse sleep environments. For example, fan use in warmer room temperatures was associated with a greater reduction in SIDS risk compared with cooler room temperatures. The study concluded that fan use may be an effective intervention for further decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.
According to the study's lead researcher, Dr. De-Kun Li,  fan use increases air movement in a baby's bedroom that could protect babies from re-breathing carbon dioxide. "If parents want to take an extra measure, they should consider using a fan," he said. But he stressed that using a fan isn't a substitute for placing babies on their backs to sleep.
The frightening thing about SIDS is that there is no known cause, only known risk factors.
The risk factors include: 
  • Tummy or side sleeping
  • Soft sleep surfaces 
  • Loose bedding
  • Overheating
  • Smoking (both mothers who smoke during pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke)
  • Bed sharing
  • Preterm and low birth weight infants
I commend researchers and advocates for working so diligently to better understand this syndrome which is the leading cause of death in children under one year old. Thanks to their efforts, the SIDS incidence has decreased drastically from 1980, when out of 1000 live births, 1.5 babies died, to now, out of 1000 live births, only 0.5 die from SIDS. That is a tremendous and successful effort for which I am truly grateful.

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