While miscarriage is the unspoken fear during the first half of a pregnancy, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unspoken fear of the postpartum mother.
While researchers have long correlated breastfeeding with reduced incidences of SIDS, a recent study shows that even partial breastfeeding (breastfeeding for as little as two months before switching to formula) can have a positive impact on reducing your baby’s risk of SIDS.
Breastfeeding for as Little as Two-Months Can Reduce the Risk of SIDS
A data meta-analysis (meaning researchers review the stats from multiple studies to find overarching connections), published in AAPs News & Journals, found that:
Breastfeeding duration of at least 2 months was associated with half the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding does not need to be exclusive to confer this protection.
Other important facts researchers uncovered include:
- Breastfeeding does not need to be exclusive – so babies who were both breastfed and bottle-fed during those two months seemed to benefit equally.
- Babies breastfed for less than 2 months had the same SIDS risk as those who weren’t breastfed at all – and this includes babies who were exclusively breastfed.
- 2-months is great, but longer is better. While two-months seemed to be the minimum amount of breastfeeding that reduced the risk of SIDS, researchers added that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lesser the risk of SIDS is. Babies breastfed for 2-4 months had a 40% decrease of SIDS, babies breastfed for 4-6-months had a 60% less chance of SIDS.
This meta-analysis was done to review stats connecting breastfeeding and reduced SIDS, so researchers aren’t clear about why breastfeeding helps. Current theory holds that immune-boosting properties inherent in breastmilk, along with the sleeping patterns newborn establish while breastfeeding, decrease SIDS incidences.
Preventing SIDS Begins Before Baby is Born
This data, along with other SIDS research findings, reiterates the fact that preventing SIDS begins long before your baby is ever born. In addition to breastfeeding, the following actions will go even further to reduce your baby’s chances of SIDS.
Seek routine, quality prenatal care
Poor quality, irregular and/or lack of prenatal care increases incidences of SIDS. Seeking prenatal care from a qualified healthcare professional helps to alleviate other health risks that may contribute to the syndrome.
Quit smoking, drinking and/or doing drugs
SIDS incidences are higher for babies whose mothers did not abstain from smoking, drinking or drugs both during and after pregnancy.
Be mindful of the baby’s sleeping environment
When all the data has been reviewed, babies are less likely to experience SIDS if they:
- Sleep on their backs, rather than their stomachs.
- Have a crib or sleeping space with a firmer, rather than softer, mattress and without soft, plush toys, sheep skin, blankets, around them.
- Optimally, the crib should conforms to the safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Are not overly-warm – once they’re out of immediate infancy, newborns desire the same comfort level as you do. Use your own body as a guide resist the urge to over-clothe, over-bundle, or over-cover them.
Have you recently found out you’re pregnant? Schedule a consultation with the healthcare team at Overlake for caring, experienced and comprehensive prenatal and postnatal care.