Two Months of Breastfeeding Cuts SIDS Risk in Half

Mother with baby — a breastfeeding and SIDS study found breastfeeding offers protection against SIDS
A study on breastfeeding and SIDS shows two months of nursing cuts the SIDS risk in half.

The results from a recent international study on breastfeeding and SIDS are reassuring both for parents who exclusively breastfeed and those who struggle and supplement with formula. Any amount of breastfeeding, as long as it continues for at least two months, cuts a baby’s risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) almost in half. After two months, if the mother continues breastfeeding, the baby’s SIDS risk drops even further.

Researchers analyzed eight major international studies involving 2,259 cases of SIDS and 6,894 additional infants, which helped account for cultural differences and other variables that could skew results.

“Breastfeeding is beneficial for so many reasons, and this is really an important one,” says researcher Kawai Tanabe, MPH, of UVA School of Medicine.

Researchers are now calling for “ongoing concerted efforts” to increase breastfeeding around the world.

In the U.S., parents might not breastfeed due to stress, poor hospital policy, a lack of access to breast pumps or concerns about returning to work. UVA is a designated Baby-Friendly birth facility. This means that, among other things, new mothers get support from certified lactation consultants, who can help with issues like a dwindling milk supply, breast soreness or the baby refusing a bottle.

The Breastfeeding and SIDS Link

Read more about the breastfeeding study.

Also New in UVA Research: Focused Ultrasound Reduces Parkinson’s Disease Tremors

Last week, UVA researchers also announced promising results from a Parkinson’s disease study. Twenty participants with tremor-dominant Parkinson’s received focused ultrasound, a non-invasive surgery that directs concentrated beams of ultrasound energy on a particular part of the brain. The participants saw a 62 percent median improvement in their hand tremor three months later.

However, other participants who underwent a fake procedure (they were later offered the real thing) saw some improvement, too, suggesting some placebo effect.

Because the results are encouraging, researchers plan to do additional testing. They say the approach may be useful for managing tremor in patients whose other symptoms are well-controlled by medication.

Focused ultrasound is already approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration to treat essential tremor, the most common movement disorder. Other researchers at UVA are evaluating the technology’s potential to treat even more diseases, including advanced breast cancer.

Find out more about focused ultrasound for essential tremors and Parkinson’s.

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