Sunday, January 4, 2009

Interesting study on SIDS

Fans may reduce the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, a new study shows.

Babies who slept in a room with a fan were 72% less likely to die from SIDS, according to a study released from Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study included interviews with the mothers of 185 infants who died from SIDS and the mothers of 312 other babies.

Click here to view the full news article, or simply do a google search on "SIDS fan study".

I have to say that my theory on why fans have this effect is slightly different from the conclusion that the study authors came to (who don't know exactly why fans seem to help, it's possible that fans improve air circulation, preventing infants from rebreathing exhaled carbon dioxide, which can pool up in the gap between a baby's face and the mattress). While I think that point is definitely valid, I doubt many (if any) of the kids in this study were placed on their tummy to sleep, which would be the only way for carbon dioxide to pool up in front of baby's face.

My theory is that air blowing lightly in the baby's face triggers their natural reflex to inhale. If you have a young baby, you can try this: blow gently in their face and they will take a quick, deep breath. This works great for example when your child hurts themselves and "screams silently" without breathing in. Our oldest would start turning blue and almost pass out until I learned this trick. Now I just give a quick blow in their face, which makes them stop screaming to take a breath.

This is another reason why I LOVE LOVE LOVE having my youngest baby always tucked in by my side to sleep at night. They do not need a fan because while I am sleeping, I am constantly breathing on them lightly, which is like a "breathing pacemaker" to them. I believe that this is a major reason why "co-sleeping" babies have so much lower rates of SIDS. Breathing is an involuntary reflex, but in some babies it is a still a little immature at birth and they simply "forget" to breathe. The natural reflex to breathe does not kick in, and they die. Of course, there are many contributing factors (such as cigarette smoke, not being breastfed, etc.), but I believe that these come into play only because they disadvantage the child and further undermine his/her health.

I am a firm believer that all young babies should sleep with their parents, and that parents need to take precautions to ensure their bed is baby-friendly (i.e. no gaps, guard rails for older babies, etc.). If you or your spouse are intoxicated, have taken prescription medicine, or are extremely obese, having baby in bed with you is NOT safe, as you may inadvertently roll over them in your sleep.

You can find lots of information on safe co-sleeping habits online or at the library.

Edited to add: Please check out this post on important information regarding the safety of (crib) mattresses.


  1. I heard a noted MD once say at a health lecture that the flame retardents in baby mattresses give off heavy gases and having the babies on their stomachs next to the mattress was a possible reason for some SIDS deaths. I think in trying to help alleviate one danger for children (fire), we may have caused another (fumes from flame retardent products.) There is some kind of mattress cover one can purchase to keep those gasses away from the baby. Just an additional FYI.

  2. Guten Tagh Feul...Wie Gehts Ihnen?

  3. fourkid,

    Thanks for the good point. I have read similar information about the chemical used to make the foam in mattresses, and I definitely think there is something to it. When I put the baby in bed next to me, I always like to lay several layers of thin receiving blankets under the baby that I change every night. Not sure if that helps, but if nothing else, it's more sanitary for delicate skin and immune system.

    silverbell 1,

    danke, es geht mir gut. Kenne ich Sie?

  4. There is a reason fans work and it falls nicely into the research done by Dr. Sprott in New Zealand. I started a business focusing of SIDS products made by Dr. Sprott. My friend is now the owner: I gave it up while pregnant for my fourth - too much work for a homeschooling mom!! :) I'm a former microbiologist (before I gave up feminism!) and this SIDS information is very logical. The main product is a mattress cover that prevents toxic (heart stopping) gases from reaching the baby. The gases come from a type of mold that eats the chemicals specifically found in certain types of materials, especially those in baby crib mattresses. So a fan would simply blow these unstable gases out of the crib before they overtake the baby. The solution? A simple mattress cover that is impermeable to this gas. All my babies have slept on it, and hundreds of thousands of babies have used them, with a 100% success rate. And no, I don't get any money for advertising this! lol. I don't know why I haven't blogged about it, but I will now that you've reminded me. It's worth a look!


Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.