According to a review (meta-analysis) of 24 studies in the journal Pediatrics, breastfeeding substantially reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), especially when breast milk is the sole nutritional source.
HealthDay News reports, “Breast-feeding appears to reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 73 percent, especially when babies are exclusively breast-fed.”
According to MedPage Today’s story, “This advantage adds to the many infant and maternal benefits of breastfeeding, the researchers noted.”
“The recommendation to breastfeed infants should be included with other SIDS risk-reduction messages,” the researchers recommended in the paper.
“Ideally, breastfeeding should be exclusive (ie, formula should not be given) for at least four to six months and should be continued until the infant is at least 1 year of age,” Hauck’s group suggested in concordance with American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for six months of exclusive breastfeeding and continuation through age 1 year.
The analysis showed that for infants who received any amount of breast milk for any time period, there was a 60 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS.
When the researchers took into account other factors such as socioeconomic status, smoking and infant sleep position, the reduction in the risk of SIDS dropped to 45 percent, Hauck said.
However, when the researchers looked at the reduced risk of SIDS among infants who were exclusively breast-fed, the risk was reduced by 73 percent.
“These results indicate that breast-feeding is strongly protective against SIDS. Exclusive breast-feeding confers the most protection,” Hauck told HealthDay News.