It’s one of those scary things you hear about that you want to immediately put out of your mind. It’s especially hard to listen to stories about it if you’re pregnant or a brand new mom. Or pretty much anyone at all. It’s just too awful to think about.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is terrifying. It’s the leading cause of death of infants between the ages of one month and 12 months, with the highest death rate between ages 2 and 4 months. Every year in the U.S. about 2,500 babies die from SIDS. And what’s extremely frustrating is that the causes aren’t completely clear. Infants don’t necessarily exhibit symptoms that parents can catch ahead of time. It’s really a silent killer.
You’ve likely heard some of the ways that healthcare professionals advise new parents to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Put baby on his back to sleep
- Don’t smoke, drink or do drugs around infants
- No fancy bedding or bumpers should be in the crib.
These are thought to lower chances of infant suffocation. But there’s also another important way to reduce the risk. Studies have shown that breastfeeding baby significantly lowers the risk of SIDS.
You hear a lot about what you’re supposed to do but not why there’s a correlation between breastfeeding and a reduced chance of SIDS. Turns out it’s partially about sleeping.
Babies who are breastfed don’t sleep as deeply. They’re more easily roused. It makes sense, of course, since breastfed infants seem to eat around the clock. Researchers say trouble with sleep arousal contributes to SIDS.
Also, breastfeeding boosts babies’ immune systems. Healthcare officials have found that infants who die from SIDS often suffer from a small infection a few day prior.
Numerous studies have been conducted that link breastfeeding and a reduction in SIDS. Some studies have shown that exclusively breastfed babies had as much as 70 percent less chance of dying from SIDS.
So, Mama, knowing that not only are you nourishing your baby, but you’re also working to save his life, should help you sleep better at night. You know, those few hours between feedings.
The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.