Breastfeeding for two months protects against SIDS

Breastfeeding for at least two months cuts the risk of SIDS almost in half, according to a new study.
By Wilson Soto | Nov 03, 2017
A broad new international study finds that breastfeeding for at least two months cuts a baby's risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) nearly in half.

"These results are very powerful," says researcher Kawai Tanabe, MPH, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, in a statement. "Breastfeeding is beneficial for so many reasons, and this is really an important one."

The researchers analyzed eight major international studies involving SIDS deaths to arrive at their results, which showed consistency across cultures and national boundaries.

While the longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the protection against SIDS, a mother need not exclusively breastfeed to confer protective benefits on her child.

"Breastfeeding for just two months reduces the risk of SIDS by almost half, and the longer babies are breastfed, the greater the protection," says researcher Fern Hauck, MD of the UVA School of Medicine and the UVA Children's Hospital. "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."

The researchers are calling for major "concerted efforts" to increase breastfeeding around the world. According to 2007 data, a quarter of U.S. babies were never breastfed.

"It's great for mothers to know that breastfeeding for at least two months provides such a strong protective effect against SIDS," said researcher Rachel Moon, MD, of the UVA School of Medicine and the UVA Children's Hospital. "We strongly support international and national efforts to promote breastfeeding."

No one yet knows why breastfeeding protects against SIDS, though factors involving benefits to the immune system may be involved.

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