Fans Lower SIDS Risk

Why circulating air may lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.


A new study has yielded another clue on what causes the tragic deaths of seemingly healthy infants. Researchers in California indicate that circulating air in a baby's nursery helps to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The latest information, published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, further points to a baby's sleep environment as crucial in the risk and prevention of SIDS. In the study of 185 SIDS cases vs. 312 randomly selected infants, Kaiser Permanente in Northern California found that having a fan in the room dropped a baby's SIDS risk by 72 percent. The study's co-author touts the circulating air in lowering the risk of "rebreathing" by the baby. In addition to the use of a fan, experts emphasize that other known strategies are effective measures to curb SIDS, which include avoiding soft bedding and overheating the room, and putting baby to sleep on his back only.

A growing number of parents are taking measures to reduce the risk of SIDS—defined by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as the sudden and medically unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year old. The national "Back to Sleep" campaign to raise awareness about the syndrome has been successful in cutting half the number of SIDS cases since its launch in 1994. The effort promotes putting babies on their backs instead of on their stomachs, which has been shown to lower the risk. Nonetheless, each year SIDS kills about 2,300 U.S. babies, about 1 infant out of every 2,000 live births, according to the American SIDS Institute.