Breastfeeding and SIDS

Very tired
Creative Commons License photo credit: janetmck

You know by now that breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and baby. While not every mom can or will breastfeed, those who choose to do so are able to offer unique benefits to their baby. According to an Australian group, breastfeeding may actually reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The information was gathered by the group SIDS and Kids, a group that provides guidelines to new moms about how to help avoid SIDS. According to Professor Jeanie Young, studies over the course of 15 years have shown that breastfeeding consistently has reduced the risk of babies dying from SIDS.

Now, to be sure, not breastfeeding doesn’t mean your baby is at increased risk; there are a number of other important factors that contribute to SIDS risk, and avoiding those can make a significant difference.

In addition to breastfeeding, here are some of the steps you can take that are known to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Lay your baby down on his back to sleep. This is actually the single most important thing you can do to help prevent SIDS. Since 1994, when the Back to Sleep campaign was launched, the rate of SIDS deaths has dropped by 50%. Sleeping on the belly increases your baby’s risk of SIDS death by as much as 12 times.
  • Avoid extra bedding. Your baby should have a firm mattress with no pillow, toys, quilts, or anything else in the crib. A mattress pad and sheet are fine, but blankets should be avoided. If you believe your baby is cold, put her in warm clothing.
  • Keep cigarette smoke away from your baby. Your baby’s risk of SIDS increases with each smoker in your home.
  • Avoid overheating. Dress your baby comfortably, but no more than a single layer beyond what you would be comfortable with in his environment. Never cover his face or head while he sleeps.
  • Consider a pacifier. There is a link between reduced SIDS risk and pacifiers, although the reason for this (and whether it’s direct cause and effect) haven’t been determined.

Just a few steps can help protect your family from the devastation of SIDS.

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