Friday, March 4, 2011

New Australian Research Uncovers Clues to SIDS

Research Uncovers Clue to SIDS

A new Australian study finds that babies who sleep on their stomachs have lower levels of oxygen in their brains than those who sleep on their backs, suggesting that a lack of oxygen could explain why babies in this position are at a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome while sleeping.

The research also backs current recommendations on the prevention of SIDS that suggest infants be put on their backs to sleep.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the number of SIDs cases rose because parents were encouraged to put their babies to sleep on their stomachs. Around the world, most babies sleep on their backs and are even kept there in devices such as cradle boards."

In the new study, the Australian researchers sought to understand what happens when babies sleep on their stomachs and why they face a risk of not being able to rouse themselves when something goes wrong, such as when they stop breathing for a time.

The researchers tested 17 babies at different times during the first six months of life when they slept either on their backs or their stomachs. For safety, the babies were studied in a hospital and were fully monitored throughout the study with heart rate, breathing and oxygen saturation recorded continuously.

The researchers found that oxygen levels in the brain dipped when babies slept on their stomachs. Previous research has shown that these babies also have lower blood pressure, although specialists have differed about whether that's important.

The findings appear online Feb. 28 in the journal Pediatrics.

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