According to a newly-released study, swaddling and sleeping on the side or on the stomach could increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Swaddling has been described as wrapping an infant in tight cloth or a blanket, with the limbs held close to the body and the head exposed. Although not as popular as in the past, swaddling is something that is believed to help relax the infants and make falling asleep easier.
As revealed by the new research, swaddling babies more than doubled their chances of SIDS. Namely, it found that infants who were swaddled were 50 to 60 percent more likely to be affected by SIDS.
The survey spanned two decades and was conducted in several regions including Australia, England, Tasmania and in the US, namely in Chicago and was led by head researcher Dr. Rachel Moon. According to Moon, risks of developing SIDS increased by 13% when swaddled babies were placed on the side or on their stomachs. Furthermore, the risk was greater for babies around 6 months of age, who can roll over by themselves, Dr. Moon argued.
The study also revealed that for their last sleep 17.5% of infants who developed SIDS were swaddled, compared to 10.8% of surviving infants from a control group. The survey was found to have some limitations, for instance due to the lack of an exact description of the swaddling techniques used across regions and across time.
According to experts, the sudden infant death syndrome is the leading cause of death among babies younger than one year. In 2014 a total of 1,500 babies died in the US alone of SIDS. The findings of the study come to support the medical recommendations currently in place, Dr. Moon stated. Accordingly, babies should not be placed on the side or on their stomachs to sleep. However, according to another expert, the message is even more far-reaching than that. Dr. Gloria Riefkohl, a Miami-based pediatrician, argued that swaddled babies should be always kept under observation. Even when infants do sleep with their parents in the same bed or in the same room, Dr. Riefkohl does not recommend nigh-time swaddling at all, and especially not for sleeping.
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