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Breastfeeding may reduce risk of SIDS

breastfed baby

Babies who are breastfed exclusively, no supplemental formula feeding, are less likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While researchers can’t claim a causal relationship, they feel confident they have ruled out other explanations.

“Breastfeeding is the best method of feeding infants,” said Dr. Fern Hauck, the lead author of the study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville.

SIDS, or crib death, affects about 2500 infants in the United States each year. SIDS is characterized by sudden death, usually in sleep of babies that are less than a year old. While the cause is unknown, it has been suggested that the babies may die of slow suffocation while sleeping on their stomachs or getting wrapped in blankets. For some reason they don’t wake or cry out. New parents are always cautioned to have their babies sleep on their backs for that reason.

This research came from reviewing 18 other studies in which mothers who had or had not experienced SIDS had breastfed their infants. The rate of SIDS was 60% less among infants who had any amount of breastfeeding; 70% less for babies exclusively breastfed.

“We found a protective effect even after controlling for factors that could explain the association,” Hauck said. For example, the link remained when factors like smoking were accounted for. Other factors which improved babies odds were sleeping in the parents’ room and using a pacifier while sleeping.

Source: Pediatrics, Reuters


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