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BREASTFEEDING AND SIDS STATISTICS – WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is every new parent’s worst fear.

Research has shown a dramatic impact from breastfeeding on the rate of SIDS.

Keep reading to find out about breastfeeding and SIDS statistics, as well as other steps you can take to reduce your baby’s risk.

Sleeping baby on back on white bed

WHAT IS SIDS?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of a baby that has no explanation. It occurs in children who are one month to one year old. The risk is highest in the first 2-3 months.

While it is terrifying, there are several things you can do to reduce your child’s risk.

mother holding baby looking at computer

WHAT IS THE RISK OF SIDS?

While the thought of SIDS is terrifying, it is important to remeber that it is a rare occurance.

The CDC reported that there were 1248 cases of SIDS in 2019 (Source).

  • SIDS rates are highest in Native Americans
  • The lowest rates are found in Asians and Pacific Islanders.
  • It strikes more boys than girls.
  • Rates have been declining.
    • In 1990 the rate was 130.27.
    • In 2019 it was 33.3.
    • These numbers are for 100,000 live births.
  • In the US the states with the lowest rates included Vermont, Massachusetts, California, New Hampshire, and New York.
  • The highest rates were found in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Dakota.

DOES BREASTFEEDING REDUCE THE RISK OF SIDS?

Breastfeeding has a dramatic impact on the incidence of SIDS.

Research published in 2017 reported that breastfeeding at least two months reduces the risk of SIDS by 50%! (Source)

A baby does not need to be exclusively breastfed. The article states, “any breastfeeding” for two months or longer.  

This is important and significant information that should be shared with expectant and new parents.

  • Doctors should be talking about it.
  • It should be in parenting magazines and blogs.
  • There should be commercials sharing this information.
  • It should be billboards!
infant breastfeeding

HOW TO REDUCE RISK OF SIDS

Currently SIDS cannot be “prevented.” However, these additional recommendations are based on research that show they reduce the risk of SIDS. 

SLEEP POSITION AND SIDS

It used to be common practice to put a baby to sleep on their tummy or side. However, it was found that cultures and countries where babies were put to sleep on their back had lower rates of SIDS.

In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) started recommending that babies be placed on their backs for all times of sleep. This change resulted in a dramatic decrease of the incidence of SIDS in the US.

  • Follow the “back to sleep” rule of always placing your baby on his back for sleep.
  • This includes daytime naps and nighttime sleep.
  • Positioning your baby on her side puts her at a higher risk for SIDS.
  • Do no use sleep positioners. They can actually increase your baby’s risk.
  • Parents often ask what to do if their baby rolls onto their tummy on their own. According to the AAP when a baby can roll back and forth on their own you do not have to return them to their back.
african american baby on back in crib

SMOKING AND SIDS

Babies whose moms smoked during pregnancy have a higher risk of SIDS. Infants who are exposed to second-hand smoke also have a higher risk.

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy.
  • Do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke around your baby.

PACIFIERS AND SIDS

It is not completely understood why, but giving a pacifier when your baby goes to sleep seems to help prevent SIDS (Source).

  • Offer a pacifier at all times of sleep.
  • If you are breastfeeding it is recommended to wait a month before offering a pacifier. This provides time to get breastfeeding established.
  • If the pacifier falls out you do not need to put it back in your baby’s mouth.
  • If your baby refuses a pacifier don’t try to force it. Just try offering it every so often to see if he has changed his mind about it.
  • Never hang a pacifier around your baby’s neck because this is a strangulation hazard.
  • The AAP recommends pacifiers not be attached to stuffed toys.
  • The speech therapists who I worked with like the Soothie pacifier. They feel like this pacifier shape encourages a baby to use their tongue properly.

SLEEP ENVIRONMENT AND SIDS

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics considers the safest sleep environment to be a firm flat surface in the parents room but not in their bed (Source).
  •  There should be nothing in the crib or bassinet. This includes pillows and stuffed animals.
    • To keep your baby warm use something like this HALO Sleepsack instead of a blanket when needed.
  • Do not use bumper pads on cribs or cradles.
  • Avoid letting your baby get overheated.
  • Avoid covering his head.

Related Post

21 Ways to Make Sure You Are Bedsharing Safely

OTHER PRECAUTIONS RECOMMENDED

  • Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after your baby is born.
  • Get prenatal care.
  • Breastfeeding unless it is contraindicated.

DOES SWADDLING PREVENT SIDS?

The AAP says that if a baby is swaddled for sleep they should be placed on their back, just like at any other time. Some research has shown higher risk of SIDS in babies who are swaddled after six months of age (Source).

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BREASTFEEDING AND SIDS STATISTICS

Breastfeeding is an important way that you can reduce the risk of SIDS in your baby.

Now you know. Share this important information.

  • Tell your friends.
  • Tell your family members.
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Post it on social media.

There are many other reasons you should breastfeed.

Related Post

Why Breastfeeding Is Important

2 Comments

  1. I don’t mean to sound rude but I don’t completely agree with this at all.. Off a pacifier at times of sleep? Not all babies like them? Not to mention how does that help? Being a mother who lost my first born to SIDs and followed every safety precaution possible as well as breastfeeding my child, I think your article offers false information.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. That must have been devastating. Unfortunately, the cause of SIDS is not known. All we know is variables that are associated with lower rates, like breastfeeding. Lower rates does not mean zero incidence. The pacifier at times of sleep is a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I personally wish it was better studied, but I can’t refute the current evidence and have an ethical obligation to pass those recommendations on.

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