What Protects against SIDS?
Recently in this space, we’ve been looking at the latest evidence on risk factors for SIDS. Briefly,
the primary Dont's are prone (face-down) sleeping and parental smoking. Bed-sharing increases
the risk when either parent is a smoker or has been using alcohol or drugs. Any soft sleeping
surface (sofa, water bed, less-than-firm mattress) and loose bedding (quilts, comforters, pillows,
stuffed animals) increase the risk of sleep-related infant death. Now we turn to protective factors.
Pacifier Use Reduces SIDS Risk by up to 90%
A simple, inexpensive protection against SIDS is use of a pacifier at sleep time (naps and nights).
Several studies suggest that pacifier use reduces the risk of SIDS by up to 90%. Pacifiers are most
effective when used with other known protections such as breastfeeding, not smoking and adequate
prenatal care. But, the news is especially good for families who are unable to provide an optimal
sleeping environment. Pacifier use also seems to offer protection against SIDS for babies who share
a bed, sleep face-down, or have loose bedding in their sleeping space. It may be that pacifier use
offers protection against SIDS for all infants.
The new 2012 edition of Beginnings Parents Guide will encourage pacifier use at sleep time, especially
for babies who sleep on their side of stomach, share a family bed, or live with a smoker. It will
continue existing promotion of breastfeeding, non-smoking and prenatal care participation.
Reference:Moon RY, Tanabe KO, Yang DC, Young HA & Hauck, FR (2011). Maternal and Child Health Journal (epub ahead of print).