The Safe to Sleep campaign promotes awareness about sleep conditions that help reduce the risk of SIDS. (For Spectrum Health Beat)
The Safe to Sleep campaign promotes awareness about sleep conditions that help reduce the risk of SIDS. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Just about everyone has heard of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

All hospitals in Michigan are required by law to talk about SIDS.

In 2013, more than 130 babies died in Michigan as a result of unsafe sleep positions. The following May, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Infant Safe Sleep Act.

Safe sleep is one way to help lower the SIDS rate. A leading example of this is the Safe to Sleep campaign, which launched in the mid 1990s to promote awareness about the dangers of placing infants face-down to sleep.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the risk of dying from SIDS increases at least twofold when infants sleep on their stomach. The proper position for a sleeping infant is face-up.

Some other ways to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Use a pacifier. According to one study, this can reduce the chances of SIDS by up to 90 percent.
  • Don’t place any items in your infant’s sleeping area. This means no toys, no stuffed animals, no pillows, no blankets and no bumper pads.
  • Don’t allow the room temperature to get too high. A temperature between 68 degrees and 72 degrees is ideal.
  • Whether it’s in a crib, a bassinet or a Pack ‘N Play, the mattress should be firm with a snug-fitting sheet.
  • A sleep sack can help your infant stay warm and cozy, but just make sure your little one sleeps face-up when wearing one.
  • Don’t smoke around your baby and don’t expose your baby to any type of smoke, including secondhand or thirdhand. We all know about secondhand smoke. But thirdhand smoke occurs when you’re exposed to surfaces and items that have been contaminated by cigarette smoke, such as clothes, furniture, flooring, vehicle interiors and walls.

Hopefully you’ve heard of most of these. But there’s one more you need to know about.

Breastfeeding

One recent study found that breastfeeding for two months may cut SIDS risk almost in half.

In a review of breastfeeding data from eight previous studies, the researchers found that breastfeeding for four to six months reduced the risk of SIDS by 60 percent, and then by up to 64 percent when breastfeeding for longer than six months.

Other studies have suggested that breastfeeding only—no use of formula—can lower the risk of SIDS by more than 70 percent.

It’s clear that breastfeeding is helpful and beneficial.

In previous stories, we have looked at the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding and how it can play a substantial role in your baby’s brain development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively in the first six months, with breastfeeding continuing from age 6 months to 1 year, but with solid foods gradually introduced. After age 1, mom can continue breastfeeding if her child prefers.

Breastfeeding makes a dramatic difference in your infant’s development.

Your baby will certainly benefit from the immunoglobulins found in breastmilk, and there’s also a thought that breastfed babies rouse more easily around 2 months old—the beginning of the peak for SIDS, which is the 2- to 4-month range.

The muscles used to breastfeed are also different than those of a baby who drinks formula. The muscles used in breastfeeding help keep the baby’s airways open.