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Today there's a new, inexpensive step all parents can take to help protect their babies from sudden infant death syndrome.
The findings of a new study are so dramatic, even the researchers were surprised.
For many parents, putting a new baby to bed can be frightening.
New mom Sandra Collins says, "Throughout pregnancy and delivery, you always worry about is something going to happen? And then you get this beautiful baby, and then you worry that he is going to be taken away from you in the middle of the night." She means taken away by sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. "It is still the leading cause for infant mortality says Kaiser Permanente researcher Dr. De-Kun Li says.
Now parents can use a new tool to help protect their babies. The new tool is a fan. California researchers discovered that a fan used in a room where a baby sleeps can reduce the risk of SIDS by a whopping 72 percent.
The findings surprised Dr. Li, the lead author of the report. Dr. Li says, "This is actually a miracle in public health. This is new knowledge. This is a new measure you can take to further reduce the risk of SIDS.
Researchers believe SIDS may be caused, in part, when a baby breathes back in exhaled carbon dioxide. A fan ventilates the air and may break up any carbon dioxide that's pooling near the infant's nose and mouth.
Collins already uses a fan to keep Izzie's room cool. She's thrilled with the discovery. She says, "How can something so simple and affordable and easy as a fan just greatly reduce the chances? It makes me feel, relax more and want to tell my friends who have babies."
Parents should use a fan in addition to other known measures, such as putting a baby on his or her back to bed, avoiding soft bedding, using a pacifier and not sharing the bed.
Babies who slept with a pacifier had a 90 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS compared to those who did not.
Researchers looked at what would happen if a window was left open. They found infants who slept with the window open were 36 percent less likely to die from SIDS than those who slept with windows closed, but that didn't bear out statistically significant.
The fan should be big enough to ventilate the room where your baby sleeps. In addition, make sure the fan is put in safe place, so that a child can not pull on the cord or put tiny fingers inside.
The study is in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.