A University of Virginia doctor has discovered a dramatic connection between breastfeeding babies and the risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The Pediatrics Journal will publish the results of that research in July's edition.
This analysis surveyed hundreds of previous studies - all with mixed results. The UVA research comes to a conclusion, that breastfeeding can save babies from dying from SIDS.
"We believe it's the most comprehensive to date," said UVA Professor of Medicine Dr. Fern Hauck.
Dr. Hauck and her team of researchers poured through more than four decades worth of studies examining the relationship between breastfeeding and SIDS. "In terms of breastfeeding and SIDS, the data had been a little inconclusive," she continued.
They narrowed more than 300 studies down to 18 and summarized the results in this report being published in July's pediatrics.
"We were looking at the pure effect of just the breastfeeding and not these other possible confounding factors," Hauck said.
Hauck's analysis shows babies breastfed for any length of time were 60 percent less likely to die from SIDS. That risk dropped 73 percent for babies exclusively breastfed.
"That's pretty outstanding. That's a very large reduction in risk," she exclaimed.
Lactation Consultant Katie Heck believes this research boosts her message to new moms that breastfeeding is best for their baby.
"It gives us a lot of extra support," said Heck.
That support is important in the city of Charlottesville, where the infant mortality rate is higher than the state average and SIDS is the main reason.
"The clientele that we serve right here is of utmost importance of understanding that that's something they can do to help protect their baby," she explained.
Dr. Hauck encourages moms to breastfeed exclusively for a newborn's first six months and then continue with food, through a baby's first birthday.
"We have yet more reasons why mothers should breastfeed, and this is a very strong one because of the risk of a baby dying of SIDS to go even lower as possible," Hauck urged.
UVA Health System is getting ready to launch a new breastfeeding medicine program to expand services for new moms, including more lactation consultants for outpatient clinics.
Click here to read the entire report in the Pediatrics Journal online.
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