Using a fan when a baby is sleeping can significantly reduce sudden infant deaths (SIDS), according to a new study available in Los Angeles on Monday.
The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S. medical institute Kaiser Permanente, is the first to center on the association between room ventilation and SIDS.
It concluded that when infants slept in a room ventilated by a fan there was a 72 percent lower risk of SIDS compared to babies who slept in a room without a fan. Sleeping in a room with an open window was also associated with a lower risk of the syndrome.
The report was published in the latest issue of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.
"SIDS is very devastating and mysterious," said lead author Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente research division in Oakland, Northern California. "We didn't see any downsides to our finding to use fans. But there are common sense safety issues. If you have toddlers, be sure they don't put their fingers into the fan."
Sudden infant death syndrome is marked by the unexpected and often unexplained death of a baby. While it can happen in children up to their first birthday, more typically it occurs in infants in their first six months.
Some 2,500 SIDS deaths occur annually in the United States, according to the American SIDS Institute.
By increasing ventilation in a room, a fan helps disperse accumulated carbon dioxide in the dead air space around the nose and mouth of infants in sleep environments that heighten the risk of re-breathing, experts said.
The study focused on 497 babies in 11 counties around California, 185 of whom died from SIDS.
(Xinhua News Agency October 7, 2008)