Breastfeeding may lower risk of sudden infant death (SIDS) by 50%

A study that was just published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics has startling results on the associations between breastfeeding and SIDS.

"In the current study, the authors examined data from the German Study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The study included 333 infants who died from SIDS in Germany between 1998 and 2001, as well as 988 age-matched controls. The authors examined the history of breastfeeding before the babies' death and compared them to the history of breastfeeding of the healthy control peers up to the same age.

The results:

By two weeks of age only 50% of the SIDS cases were breastfeed. In contrast, by this age, 83% of the healthy babies were breastfed.

By one month of age, only 40% of the SIDS cases were exclusively breastfed compared to 72% of the healthy babies. In addition, 50% of the SIDS cases were not breastfed at all compared to only 17% of the healthy peers. The percentage of both groups that were partially breastfed was the same at around 10%.

Most importantly, during the month before their death, 78% of SIDS babies had not been breastfed, compared to 39% of the healthy babies at the equivalent age. Only 9% of the SIDS babies were exclusively breastfed during this month compared to 34% of the healthy peers. Moreover, during this time, 13% of the SIDS cases were partially breastfed, compared to 28% of the healthy peers."

Breast milk contains immunoglobulin which is an antibody that plays a critical role in the human immune system. This antibody has been shown to improve immune systems in infants, children and adults. It is likely that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS by enhancing the baby's immune system. This reduces the risk of dangerous infection-induced inflammatory reactions.



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