Breastfeeding linked to reduced risk of SIDS

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women who breastfeed evidently lower the chances that their baby might die of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS, according to a German study.

Dr. M. M. Vennemann, from the University of Munster, and colleagues therefore recommend that public health messages aimed at SIDS risk-reduction should encourage women to breastfeed their infant through 6 months of age.

At present, some countries include breastfeeding recommendations in their SIDS prevention campaigns, while others do not, the investigator point out in their report in the medical journal Pediatrics. The goal of the current study was to confirm that breastfeeding is, in fact, tied to a reduced risk of SIDS.

The study included 333 infants who died of SIDS and 998 age-matched “control” infants.

At 2 weeks of age, 83 percent of controls were being breastfed compared to only 50 percent of SIDS infants. At 1 month of age, corresponding rates were 72 percent versus 40 percent

Exclusive breastfeeding at 1 month cut the risk of SIDS in half. Partial breastfeeding at this point was also tied to a reduced risk, although that could have been a chance finding.

These results add “to the body of evidence showing that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, and that this protection continues as long as the infant is breastfed,” the investigators conclude.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, March 2009.