Keeping Fan on in Baby’s Room Decreases SIDS Risk

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

There is an exciting new study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine this month. It reveals a practical, simple way to potentially reduce the risk of SIDS.

SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome.  It’s the unexpected, sudden death of a sleeping child under age 1.  The cause is unexplained.  An NIH “Back to Sleep” campaign, started in 1992, has largely been attributed for the 56-percent decrease in SIDS over the last 10 years.  If you have a baby under a year of age, please click on that link.

Two of the major changes were to always lay your baby on his or her back for sleep, even naps.  Also never have your baby sleep on or under soft bedding.

The rate of SIDS in the U.S. decreased from 1.2 deaths per thousand babies in 1992 to 0.53 deaths per thousand (around 2000) in 2003.  Lately the rate has plateaued but is still unacceptable.  What other things can we do to decrease the SIDS rate even lower?  The study gives us hints.


Study Findings

Babies who had a fan in the room where they slept were 78 percent less likely to have SIDS.  A troubling finding was that 25 percent of parents still had their baby sleeping on their stomach sometimes.  Please, please don’t do this.  But even with babies who slept entirely on their backs, there was a 16-percent decrease in SIDS.

It has been thought for a while that rebreathing of trapped carbon dioxide near the baby is a possible cause of SIDS.  The authors of this study theorize that the air circulation from the fan diffuse this.

The fan does not need to be blowing directly on the baby and, as long is the room temperature is comfortable and the baby is not sweating, there should not be a chill.

I love studies like this where simple steps can do so much good.

Of course, always check with your health-care provider.

Does this make sense to you?  Will you be considering it, or do you have questions?

Here’s a link to the study.

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4 Responses to “Keeping Fan on in Baby’s Room Decreases SIDS Risk”

  1. mark salinas Says:

    Wow! This has never even crossed my mind. All three of my children have had fans in their rooms for the sole purpose of a noise buffer. Very interesting. Thanks!

  2. Blake Says:

    I will keep this in mind as we prepare for our first baby. We hit 20 weeks tomorrow. Thanks for the info!

  3. James Hubbard Says:

    Mark, sometimes you do right without even knowing it. :)

  4. James Hubbard Says:

    Please do, Blake. And congratulations.

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