Breastfeeding may reduce the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS, a new study says.
Babies who are breastfed for at least two month right after birth cut their risk of death due to SIDS by half, New York Daily News reports. Fern Hauck of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and author on the study, said, “Breastfeeding for just two months reduces the risk of SIDS by almost half, and the longer babies are breastfed, the greater the protection. The other important finding from our study is that any amount of breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS — in other words, both partial and exclusive breastfeeding appear to provide the same benefit.”
SIDS is the leading cause of mortality for infants a month to a year old. The researchers found that while breastfeeding for two months provided benefits, breastfeeding for less than that time did not do anything for an infant with regards to SIDS risks.
The researchers examined eight studies from around the world that studied SIDS and investigated over 2,259 cases where the infant died. They compared this with 6,894 babies who did not die, and found that breastfeeding made the difference, regardless of cultural backgrounds or behaviors.
The team says its findings call for “ongoing concerted efforts” to promote breastfeeding worldwide and increase the number of mothers who breastfeed.
In 2007, almost 25% of babies in the United States had never been breastfed, the researchers said. While more work is needed to determine more about the link between breastfeeding and SIDS, the researchers say that babies could have a stronger immune system brought about by breastfeeding.
Rachel Moon, a researcher at UVA, said, “It’s great for mothers to know that breastfeeding for at least two months provides such a strong protective effect against SIDS. We strongly support international and national efforts to promote breastfeeding.”