Study: SIDS risk increased at higher altitude

‘Back-to-sleep’ campaign corrects for decreased oxygen, researchers found.

Study: SIDS risk increased at higher altitude

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), while rare, is the cause of death for 3,500 infants in America each year, so understanding its causes and how to prevent it is an important priority of advocates, researchers and pediatricians.


A new survey published this month on the journal Pediatrics added new details on some new possible causes of SIDS and offered solutions.

Noting that “infants living at altitude have evidence of hypoxia [which occurs when babies do not enough oxygen],” the researchers wrote that their study found that “residence at high altitude was significantly associated with an increased adjusted risk for SIDS.”

Crucially, the study reports that when the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign, which encourages parents to put baby to sleep on their backs, was introduced in Colorado, the risk of SIDS death was also diminished. “This is a call for people living in high altitudes to be very vigilant,” senior researcher Dr. Amber Khanna, a cardiologist and pediatrician at the University of Colorado, told the New York Times.

The study’s authors recommend always putting baby to sleep on her back, and to use other methods recommended to further reduce the risk of SIDS. Those practices, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, are:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
  • Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).

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