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SIDS is one of the leading causes of death among infants one month through one year of age in the United States, claiming the lives of almost 2,500 infants in the US each year - nearly 7 babies every day. (1) SIDS deaths occur unexpectedly and quickly to apparently healthy infants, usually during periods of sleep.

Although the cause of SIDS is still unknown, one theory thought to cause SIDS is the rebreathing of built up exhaled carbon dioxide around the infant’s nose and mouth. 

De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, MPH, a senior research scientist at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, set out to test whether increasing the ventilation in infant’s rooms would decrease SIDS risk.

The study found that the use of a ceiling fan in an infant’s room reduced the risk of SIDS by 72%, compared to rooms without a ceiling fan. (2)

The study also found that opening a window in an infant's room reduced the risk of SIDS by 36% compared to babies who slept in a room with closed windows, though this connection was not statistically significant, according to the researchers.

The Healthy Child Care of America (HCCA) Back to Sleep Campaign launched in 1994 has reached the masses of the relation to reduced SIDS risk and putting infants to sleep on their backs, but “the relation between room ventilation and reduced SIDS risk has received little attention,” the study reports.

“If parents wanted to do more to reduce the baby’s SIDS risk, they can add a fan,’’ Dr. Li said.

References:

(1) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

(2) The study can be found in the October 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=380273#RESULTS

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