Use of fan may cut SIDS risk

By Tom Nordlie • Published: March 24th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is every new parent’s worst nightmare.

It causes babies to die in their sleep.

Though the cause is unknown, SIDS is associated with several factors, including babies sleeping on their stomachs, use of soft bedding and covers placed over the head.

Thanks to an educational campaign, the U-S incidence of SIDS dropped by half during the 1990s. But it remains the number-one killer of infants.

Now, an article in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests ventilation fans could further reduce the risk.

In the study, researchers interviewed the mothers of almost two-hundred infants who died from SIDS, to learn about the babies’ sleeping conditions.

Then they interviewed the mothers of healthy babies and matched those infants with the ones who died, using county of residence, ethnicity and age.

The results showed that having a fan running in the baby’s room was associated with a seventy-two percent reduction in the risk of SIDS overall.

Fans were especially helpful under conditions including warmer temperatures, rooms with closed windows, babies sleeping on their sides or stomachs, and babies who slept without pacifiers.

Why the difference?

Some scientists believe SIDS is caused by a build-up of exhaled carbon dioxide around the baby’s face. Fans circulate the air, which might stop this from happening.

Whatever the reason, it’s enough to know a fan could prevent a tragedy.

For a few pennies’ worth of electricity, parents can gain a little more peace of mind.

And that’s priceless.