Breast Feeding, SIDS, and Fans


A study recently found that the use of ceiling fans lowered the risk of SIDS in infants rooms when the room was warm.

I must live under a rock. I was reading a Newsweek article regarding SIDS, and took note that La Leche continues to promote co-sleeping to encourage breast feeding. I went to the La Leche website and quickly verified it—and while safety guidelines are given that echo the recommendations of “Back to Sleep,” it doesn’t make clear that sleeping separately is recommended to reduce the risk of SIDS. The website does, however, provide a link to a La Leche paper taking issue with the policy statement of the AAP Task Force on SIDS with regard to the use of pacifiers and co-sleeping. How many young mothers come to you confused?

In case you’ve been away from online news, the Newsweek article addressed the study recently published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that found the use of ceiling fans lowered the risk of SIDS in infants rooms when the room was warm, when the infant slept in a prone or side position, when an infant shared the bed with someone other than a parent, or when infants did not use a pacifier.

This information is useful, because using a fan is simple, and unlike the co-sleeping issue, there are no immediately identifiable cultural impediments to using a fan in an infant’s room. I worry, though, that parents may look at the study and rationalize that they don’t need to be as concerned about other recommendations, like placing the child in a supine position for sleep.

I suspect that some of this kind of reasoning is in the back of mothers’ minds when they make the decision to co-sleep for breastfeeding convenience — breastfeeding is good for the baby’s health, so that somehow cancels out the risk associated with co-sleeping. The Newsweek article discusses a Pediatrics journal supplement which revealed that approximately 25% of parents of 3 month old infants don’t follow recommendations for babies to sleep on their backs, and approximately 33% co-sleep. There may be several factors affecting these results, such as cultural influences from an increased immigrant population, but I wonder also if SIDS has fallen off of new parents’ radar.

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