Could it be this simple? Moving air, like from a fan, is all you need to prevent SIDS? When your humble correspondent first started practicing (and I won’t give away my mid-40’s age) it was almost considered child abuse to let your children sleep on their backs. That was then! A “revolution” (at least to my memory) began after an Aussie study suggested infants sleeping on their backs had a significantly reduced incidence of SIDS. The fear of a child choking and their inability to clear their throats (while lying on their backs) because of their immature cough reflex, had long been thought to be a causative factor.
It is now known that sleeping on the stomach and soft bedding, both of which may limit air ventilation around an infant’s breathing pathway, can increase the chance of re-breathing exhaled carbon dioxide.
From Kaiser Permanente‘s Division of Research:
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, this latest study looked at 185 babies who died from SIDS in 10 Northern California counties and Los Angeles County from 1997 to 2000. They were compared to 312 infants of a similar age and from similar socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds in the same counties. Researchers identified SIDS cases through records from the California Department of Health Services and the Los Angeles County coroner’s office and interviewed participating mothers by trained interviewers in English and Spanish with an average of 3.8 months after the baby’s death.
The study found that if an infant was in a high-risk sleep environment such as sleeping on their stomach or without a pacifier, or sharing a bed with someone other than parents or in an overheated room, using a fan to improve room ventilation was particularly beneficial.
Press release: Using a Fan During Sleep May Reduce Infants’ SIDS Risk, Kaiser Permanente Study Shows