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- No one is entirely sure what causes SIDS in an otherwise healthy baby, but the leading assumptions is an inability to breathe properly while asleep.
- Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the occurrence of SIDS by over 50 percent by improving the immune system, promoting brain growth, reducing reflux and a variety of other factors.
- While six months of breastfeeding is recommended, only two months of breastfeeding is required to significantly cut the risk of SIDS.
Though deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have decreased by 60 percent since the early 1990s, the condition is still a major concern among parents of newborns. The frightening condition causes the sudden death of an otherwise healthy newborn in his or her sleep. As a new parent, it’s normal to be concerned about SIDS, but fortunately there are plenty of steps you can take to lower the risk.
What Causes SIDS?
Researchers still aren’t sure exactly what causes SIDS. The condition occurs most often between two and four months of age and decreases after six months. After six months, babies have a stronger immune system and are better at waking themselves up if they stop breathing.
Studies have found that putting your little one to sleep on his or her back and removing excess bedding can reduce the risk of SIDS. It’s believed that blankets, bumpers and stuffed animals may cause your little one to breathe in exhaled, carbon-dioxide rich air, which can cause the baby to not breathe properly.
How Breastfeeding Can Help
With studies showing that breastfeeding your little one cuts the risk of SIDS by 50 percent, routine breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk. Breastfeeding helps reduce this risk in several ways.
Breastfeeding Improves the Immune System
The antibodies in breast milk give your little one’s immune system a boost and can help protect your baby from getting a cold or the flu. Illnesses that affect the upper respiratory system may prevent your little one from breathing properly during sleep, causing SIDS.
Breastfeeding Promotes Brain Growth
Breast milk contains “growth factors” that help develop your baby’s central nervous system. The central nervous system is responsible for controlling breathing during sleep.
Breastfeeding Strengthens Suck and Swallow Reflexes
Your baby has to work hard to breastfeed. Coordinating the suck and swallow reflexes that breastfeeding requires helps to strengthen your little one’s reflexes and builds the oral cavity and throat muscles. Stronger muscles can help your little one’s airways stay open at night.
Breastfeeding Reduces Reflux
Breast milk is easier for babies to digest and is emptied faster in your little one’s stomach than formula. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to experience reflux, which can help keep their airways clear.
Breastfeeding Promotes Good Sleep
Though breastfeeding your little one every few hours is certainly not good for your own sleep schedule, it’s good for your baby’s. Studies have found that long periods of sleep aren’t beneficial for babies. Babies who are breastfed are more easily aroused from sleep due to needing to eat more often. Being able to arouse easily from sleep reduces the risk of SIDS.
Breastfeeding Increases Maternal Awareness
Breastfeeding your little one means you spend a lot of time with him or her. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in their parent’s room in a bassinet or crib for the first year of life. Breastfeeding and having your baby nearby can help you tune into your little one’s different cries and help alert you if your baby is in distress.
Just Two Months Makes a Huge Difference
A 2017 study by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that babies who breastfeed for two months significantly reduced their risk of SIDS. Additionally, the study found that any amount of breastfeeding during the duration of the two months was beneficial.
This means that moms who exclusively breastfeed, pump their breast milk or offer their little one both formula and breast milk for two months all reduce their baby’s risk of SIDS.
Contact Ameda Direct
Giving your baby breast milk can not only give him or her a boost in nutrition and antioxidants, but it may also reduce his or her risk of SIDS. If you need to go back to work or you have others watch your little one, you can still provide him or her with breast milk by using a breast pump. Most insurance plans cover breast pumps at no cost to you. Contact us at Ameda Direct today so we can help find the right pump for you.