Home Monitors Don't Appear to Predict SIDS
WebMD News Archive
May 1, 2001 -- Proper positioning of babies when they sleep --
not the use of home monitors -- still appears to be the best way to prevent
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or "crib death," experts say.
"For a long time it has been recognized that certain
infants are at risk for SIDS," George Lister, MD, tells WebMD. "We have
also realized that many of these infants have episodes when they stop breathing
or their heart rate decreases to what seems to be a dangerously low pace. The
idea has been that if they were monitored at home with devices capable of
counting the duration of these episodes and sounding an alarm, the warning
would interfere with the event and save the child from sudden death."
But Lister says that hope, which is supported by a flourishing
industry of home monitoring manufacturers, does not appear to be borne out.
Worried about SIDS? Talk to other parents on our Parenting board moderated by
Steven Parker, MD.
A large study of home monitors designed to prevent SIDS found
that many of the heart and breathing irregularities that set off monitor alarms
-- and which may be precursors to crib death -- occur commonly both in healthy
and in at-risk infants.
What's more, those irregularities don't appear to be related to
SIDS, according to a report appearing in the May 2 edition of TheJournal of the American Medical Association.
Lister, an author of the report, tells WebMD that the study
sheds some doubt on the usefulness of home monitors in predicting or preventing
"What we found is that not only were the events currently
being detected by monitors very, very common, they were occurring in healthy
infants as well as infants at risk," Lister, a professor of pediatrics at
Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., tells WebMD.
In the study, nearly 1,000 infants -- including healthy babies
and babies born prematurely -- were observed using home monitors for the first
six months after birth. The babies had no or varying degrees of risk for