Swaddling, a traditional practice of wrapping infants to promote calming and sleep, has always been a rather controversial parenting practice.
Now it seems as though the case against it is gaining ground thanks to a new study by researchers.
Published this month in the medical journal Pediatrics, the new analysis revealed that swaddling is linked to Sudden Death Infant Syndrome, or SIDS.
“Researchers pooled data from four observational studies of SIDS and swaddling that included 760 SIDS cases and 1,759 controls,” said a story by The New York Times. “Over all, swaddling increased the risk for SIDS by about one-third.”
The reason for this is that most infants start rolling in bed at about 4-6 months of age.
“Some of the infants who died of SIDS and who had been swaddled and put to sleep on their backs—the position that’s recommended—were found on their stomachs anyway,” said a report by The Atlantic.
However, according to its lead author Anna S. Pease, the results should be interpreted with caution. The studies of the subject are few and the good evidence is limited.
In fact, quite a lot of infants who died of SIDS weren’t swaddled at all.
The same Atlantic report said: “Nearly one-third of the babies who died of SIDS were put to sleep unswaddled and on their backs; and about 30 percent of the babies who died were found in that position. (In contrast, under 6 percent of the SIDS deaths occurred in babies who were swaddled and put to sleep on their backs.)”
“We already know that side and prone sleeping are unsafe for young babies, so the advice to place children on their backs for sleep is even more important when parents choose to swaddle them,” said Anna S. Pease.
“We suggest that parents think about what age they should stop swaddling. Babies start to roll over between four and six months, and that point may be the best time to stop.”
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