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Fans Lower Risk of Sudden Baby Death

baby, cribUsing a fan to circulate air lowered the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in a study of nearly 500 babies.

SIDS is the sudden death of an otherwise healthy infant that can't be attributed to any other cause. It may be caused by brain abnormalities that prevent babies from gasping and waking when they don't get enough oxygen.

Researchers interviewed mothers of 185 infants who died from SIDS, and mothers of 312 infants of similar race and age. The mothers answered dozens of questions about their baby's sleeping environment. Researchers found that fan use was associated with a 72 percent lower risk of SIDS.

However, placing babies on their backs to sleep is still the best advice for preventing SIDS. Experts also recommend a firm mattress, removing toys and pillows from cribs, and keeping infants from getting too warm.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for babies up to 1 year old, and is the third leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every year, over 2,200 infant deaths are attributed to SIDS.

Yet, despite getting a lot of attention in recent years, the definition of SIDS is completely ambiguous. It describes the sudden death of an infant under one year that remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation. So anytime a baby is tragically found dead, usually when the infant is supposed to be sleeping, if no other cause can be determined, the death is said to be caused by SIDS.

What, then, are the real underlying causes of SIDS?

What Causes SIDS?

One theory suggests that babies who die from SIDS may have brain abnormalities that prevent them from waking up when they don’t get enough oxygen during sleep. An "immaturity" of the central nervous system -- both brain and cardiovascular -- is therefore a likely cause of SIDS, and optimized nutrition for the mother during pregnancy and after is an essential element of prevention.

All nutrients, including omega-3 and vitamin D, are important for full fetal and infant development.

For instance, a study published in Acta neuropathologica back in 2002 found that infants without the full complement of brain neurons due to inadequate nutrition are at risk of SIDS because they are unable to develop appropriate heart and lung control during a crucial developmental period.

If you or someone you love is currently pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, it is a wise and simple step to make sure you’re getting enough:

Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiencies are common in the United States, which is unfortunate because healthy vitamin D levels prevent a host of illnesses like Parkinson"s disease, cancer, asthma and osteoporosis. A lack of vitamin D may also be one reason why rates of SIDS among African Americans are almost twice those of other ethnicities. It may also explain why SIDS is more common in winter months, when sunlight is scarce.

I will be publishing an article that Dr. John Cannell recently published, which suggests that vitamin D deficiency in the pregnant mom may be one of the major contributing factors for autism. It is absolutely imperative that all pregnant women have their vitamin D levels tested and make sure their blood levels are between 50 and 60 ng/ml.

Ideally you should get your vitamin D from healthy sun exposure (and healthy sun exposure for your baby after he’s born), but you can supplement with a high-quality, natural vitamin D as long as you have your levels monitored.

Omega-3 fats: Omega-3 fat DHA is accumulated in fetal tissues, particularly the central nervous system. However, because animal cells cannot form omega-3 fatty acids, a fetus must obtain all of its omega-3 fats from its mother’s diet. A mother’s dietary intake and plasma concentrations of DHA directly influence the DHA status of the developing fetus.

Aside from lowering the risk of SIDS, omega-3 fats also help to prevent premature deliveries and maximize your baby’s intelligence.

Be Wary of What’s in Your Baby’s Mattress

There is compelling evidence that SIDS may also be related to fire retardants in the baby"s mattress. The mechanism is a common, ordinarily harmless, household fungus (Scopulariopsis brevicaulis) and certain microorganisms, which consume the fire-retardant phosphorus, arsenic and antimony in the mattress plasticizer.

When the microorganisms in your baby’s mattress consume the fire-retardant and other chemicals, they emit neurotoxic gases including phosphine, arsine and stibine. The gas generation starts when the mattress and bedding warm up, due to contact with the baby’s body.

There are two options to avoid this problem. One is to avoid purchasing a crib mattress made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which you can pretty much guarantee will include flame-retardant chemicals. There are organic crib mattresses out there that contain no synthetic fabrics, plastics, formaldehyde, chemicals, dyes or fire retardants, and these seem to be one of the safest options.

You can also purchase a mattress cover that is not made from PVC. These are available at baby care retail stores, or you can make your own using polythene (same as polyethylene) sheets from a home improvement store. To wrap your baby’s mattress:

    1.Use thick, clear (not colored) polythene sheeting. The thickness of the polythene must be at least 125 microns and colorless. Do not use PVC (polyvinyl chloride) for mattress-wrapping.

    2. Place the polythene over the top of the mattress and down the ends and sides, and secure it firmly on the underside of the mattress with strong adhesive tape.

    3. The polythene on the underside of the mattress should not be airtight. It must be airtight on the top and sides of the mattress.

It is imperative to use the correct bedding on top of the polyethylene cover. Use a fleecy pure cotton underblanket and tuck this in securely. Then make the bed using sheets and pure woolen or pure cotton overblankets. Do not use any type of moisture-resistant mattress protector, sheepskin, sheepfleece underlay, acrylic blanket, sleeping bag or duvet.

What About Vaccines?

Though you aren’t likely to hear this in the mainstream press, vaccinations have also been linked to an increased risk of SIDS. According to Joseph Hattersley, co-author of The Infant Survival Guide: Protecting Your Baby from the Dangers of Crib Death, Vaccines and Other Environmental Hazards (an excellent resource for parents-to-be) at least two studies show that after certain vaccinations there are repeated febrile (with fever) episodes, and SIDS occurred on such days. He writes:

“Each vaccination raises the baby"s temperature, multiplying gas generation in the crib if the baby is not protected against it, and hence worsening risk of death by gas poisoning. A rise in the bedding temperature close to baby"s body from 98.6oF to 104oF can increase gas generation ten-fold or more.

In 1972, P.J. Landrigan, MD, and J.J. Witte, MD, reported febrile (with fever) convulsions on days 3, 7 to 10, 13, 15, 18, and 25 after measles vaccination (which is now part of MMR). Other researchers reported derangement of body temperature control after a variety of vaccines.

For babies protected by … a properly wrapped mattress, these fevers pass harmlessly with normal treatment. But for infants who are not so protected, vaccinations increase toxic gas exposure and SIDS risk directly. They also elevate crib death [SIDS] risk indirectly by weakening immunity and increasing incidence of fever-generating asthma and other diseases.”

So if your child has received a vaccination, it is essential that you do not put him to sleep on an unprotected chemical-containing mattress.

Tips to Reduce SIDS Risk

SIDS is a tragic and very misunderstood condition, but one that you can reduce your risk of by following some simple tips. The top steps that I suggest all parents follow are:

• Pregnant women should make sure they’re eating very healthy, basing your diet on whole, fresh foods and including plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, and vitamin D from the sun or a high-quality oral supplement.

Breastfeed your baby. Several studies performed in the United States and other industrialized nations reveal increased risks of SIDS among babies who receive formula instead of breast milk.

• Put your baby to sleep on their back. Babies who sleep on their tummy or side are more likely to die from SIDS.

• Use a toxin-free crib mattress, or one covered with an appropriate mattress cover. The mattress itself should be firm, and there should be no covers, pillow, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or toys, as these all increase the risk of SIDS.

• Be careful not to put too many clothes on the baby at bedtime. Use just enough clothing to keep the baby comfortable but not so much that they could overheat.

• Keep your baby’s room temperature comfortable (again, you want to avoid overheating the baby), and use a fan to help circulate the air.

• Learn about the risks of vaccinations, and decide which ones are right, or not right, for your baby.

• Avoid cigarette smoke. Babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy, or raised in an area where they’re exposed to tobacco smoke, are more likely to die from SIDS.