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Health & Baby

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Fan in Baby's Room May Lower SIDS Risk

Study Shows Bedroom Fans May Help Cut Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sleeping and SIDS continued...

Sleeping in a room with an open window was found to reduce the risk of SIDS by 36%, while sleeping with a fan in the room was associated with a 72% reduction in risk.

The risk reduction with fan use was even greater in babies who were put to bed on their stomachs or had other sleep-related SIDS risk factors.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study appears in the October issue of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

Back Sleeping Still Important

Pediatrician and SIDS researcher Fern Hauck, MD, tells WebMD that the observation that better ventilation may lower the risk of sudden infant death is an important one.

Hauck directs the Internal Family Medicine Clinic of the University of Virginia Health System.

"We have no way of knowing which children will die of SIDS, so anything we can tell parents that might lower risk is important," she says.

She called the findings "exciting," but also expressed concern that some parents might get the message that all they need to do to keep their baby safe is put a fan in the baby's bedroom.

Hauck led the American Academy of Pediatrics task force that wrote the group's most recent recommendations for lowering SIDS risk.

In addition to putting babies to sleep on their backs, the task force recommended that babies be offered a pacifier at night or at nap time if they will take one.

Other recommendations include:

  • Although babies can be brought into their parents' bed for nursing or comforting, they should not share the bed when parents are sleeping.
  • Infants should be put to sleep on a firm mattress covered by nothing more than a sheet.
  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib: stuffed toys, pillows, and quilts should be removed from the bed when the baby is sleeping.
  • Avoid overheating. Babies should be lightly clothed during sleep, and the room they sleep in should not be too hot.
  • Mothers-to-be should not smoke during pregnancy, and babies should not be exposed to secondhand smoke.

"Smoking during pregnancy is one of the strongest risk factors for SIDS," Hauck says.

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