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Pediatrics Researchers Discover that Breast Feeding Reduces SIDS

Posted by floriza in Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a policy statement regarding safe sleep practices that encourages breastfeeding to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Sometimes called crib death, SIDS is the unexplained death of an infant which usually occurs during sleep. More than 4,000 babies die of SIDS in the U.S. every year.

The statement mentions studies that indicate breastfeeding is protective against SIDS. In a German study, babies were 50% less likely to suffer SIDS if their only form of nutrition was breast milk at one month of age. Even if a baby is given formula along with breast milk, however, the risk of SIDS decreases to some degree.

Breastfeeding has also been found to reduce the risk of diarrhea and respiratory infections in infants.

Keeping Babies Safe During Sleep

Besides breastfeeding to protect against SIDS, the AAP statement advises parents to practice certain sleep habits in order to lower their babies’ risks of SIDS. This includes a recommendation that parents not share a bed with their infants, even though breastfeeding may be easier if done in bed.

Babies who share beds with older children or adults are much more likely to suffer asphyxia, suffocation, falls, strangulation, or overheating. It is far too easy for a larger person to roll over onto an infant during sleep, causing any number of injuries. The risk is greatest with babies under the age of three months.

Of course, mothers who share a bed with a baby when they are very tired or have had an alcoholic beverage put their children at the greatest risk.

American Academy of Pediatrics Specific Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates adults sharing a room with a baby, however. This cuts down on the incidence of SIDS as well because parents are able to check in on the baby more frequently when they share a room. In fact, this practice has been shown to reduce the incidence of SIDS by as much as half.

On the other hand, products that claim to protect children from suffocation have not been shown to work. In fact, in some cases, these products have actually caused babies to suffocate.

The AAP also suggests that parents give a baby a pacifier during sleep time and keep babies away from any type of smoke.

Babies should sleep on their backs, and soft objects, including stuffed animals, should not be placed next to babies until they reach at least one-year-old.

Assistance in pediatrics in New Jersey and other states can be obtained at medical centers and private doctor’s offices.


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