A possible cause of SIDS is thought to be an infant’s “re-breathing” exhaled air (carbon dioxide) that becomes trapped in pillows or soft bedding close to their face, or around their nose and mouth.
Dr. De-Kun Li, a Research Scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California and a “proud father of two wonderful children,” became interested in sudden infant death syndrome and came up with a brilliant notion: if SIDS is caused by a baby “re-breathing” still/stale air, a fan that circulates the air around him could help prevent SIDS. To test his hypothesis, Dr. Li and colleagues assessed information on 185 infants who died of SIDS and 312 other babies who did not die of SIDS.
His research, reported in October, 2008 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that using a fan in a baby’s room with poor ventilation apparently reduces the risk of SIDS - by 72%.
I called him to get his take on his findings, and asked him what he suggested I pass on to all fathers with new babies. After cautioning that additional research was needed to confirm the findings, Dr. Li advised the following:
- Put your baby to sleep on his back
- No soft bedding, pillows, or loose blankets in his crib
- No smoking during pregnancy or around the baby by mom or dad
- Make sure his room is well ventilated; if not, use a fan to circulate the air
- Make sure he is not too hot when sleeping due to a high room temperature or wrapping him in a thick blanket
- Use a pacifier if the baby takes it.
Dr. Li has come up with great news for new parents; his intuition and research have produced an important new strategy in preventing healthy babies from suddenly dying. For more information on SIDS prevention, visit BabyCenter.com.