SIDs or sudden infant death syndrome is a devastating tragedy in the family: a perfectly healthy baby dying unexpectedly; and no scientist has so far being able to find a reason why. There are many theories that are being discussed, immunizations and their associated toxins being one of them, but no conclusive answer has been discovered so far.
While the scientific community is looking for answers, SIDs continues to be the leading cause of deaths of children below the age of one; and every year, about 2,000 babies in the U.S. die from SIDS. In most cases, SIDS happens between the ages of two and four months.
What if many of these cases can be easily prevented?
A new study published in Pediatrics looked at over 2,200 SIDs cases and found out that it can be prevented in over half of the cases by doing what nature intended for us to do (and it has absolutely nothing to do with the way the baby sleeps in this particular case, although that can also make a big difference).
Study Finds How to Reduce the Risk of SIDs by 64%
Scientists at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, examined 2,267 SIDs cases, along with 6,837 healthy babies, and found that SIDs can be prevented in a surprising way – by breastfeeding alone.
In the study, researchers found that by breastfeeding the baby for just two to four months, parents may be able to cut the risk of SIDs by 40%; for four to six months – by 60%; and longer than 6 months – by 64%.
The study also found that the amount of breastfeeding is irrelevant. Breastfeeding can be supplemented by formula when needed, but researchers do encourage mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months if possible.
Unfortunately, the United States has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, while New Zealand, the home of this study, has one of the highest.
But whether high or low rates, there is another guideline that not a single country in the world is following.
Not a Single Country in The World Follows The WHO Guideline
The WHO confirms how important it is to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and with food supplementation for at least two years, and calls it a natural “vaccine.”
“[Breastfeeding] protect[s] infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive,” according to director-general of WHO.
Countries around the world are not meeting the recommended guidelines. Globally, less than 40% of mothers breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. In the United States fewer than 25% of mothers report breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months because of these main reasons:
- Only 18% of hospitals support breastfeeding; baby formula marketing material makes it seem like breastfeeding is not needed in many cases.
- In many countries around the world there is a paid maternity leave for up to three years, meanwhile the U.S. has no guaranteed maternity leave. There are only four countries in the world that have zero paid leave, they are Liberia, Swaziland, Papau New Guinea, and the U.S.
Because of these and other reasons, in only 18 states over 25% of mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. In 21 states, between 18 and 25% of mothers do, and in the rest of the states the number is between 9 and 17.9%. The highest number is in the state of Montana – 33.8%, and the lowest is Mississippi – 9.3%.
Besides the low breastfeeding rate, there is another detail that most mothers do not do: breastfeeding is crucial in the first hour of birth.
According to a WHO report, less than 44% of mothers breastfeed within the first hour.
The first hour of the baby’s life is extremely important as the baby gets used to their new environment. Breastfeeding in the first hour provides the following benefits, according to UNICEF:
-Keeps the baby at the right body temperature.
-Exposes them to harmless bacteria to jump start the immune system
-Provides colostrum, often called “the gift of life:” rich in antibodies that provide protection.
-Helps release oxytocin in the mother: aids in staying calm and bonding with the baby
-Reduces the risk of infant mortality
-Breastfeeding for the next six months prepare the baby for a long healthy life and nourish all of the organs to function properly.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfed babies have lower chances: of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Childhood obesity
- Ear infections
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Lower respiratory infections
Breastfeeding also provides the following benefits:
- A healthy immune system
- Protection against allergies
- Healthy bones, joints, and muscles
- Better eyesight, less likely to need glasses
- Better and straighter teeth, less need for orthodontics
- Smoother digestion, prevents constipation
- Fewer infections
- Less chance of acute appendicitis
- Healthier than the formula for the kidneys
- Protection against influenza
- Lower cholesterol
- Better heart health
It’s not only the physical health of the baby that is being improved, breastfeeding is also healthy for mental and brain health. The healthy fats help to raise a child’s IQ (a 3-76 point increase) by supporting the nerve tissue. A study in Brazil found that prolonged breastfeeding increases intelligence until at last 30 years of age.
Most experts agree with them – breast feeding makes babies healthier and smarter.
What About Those Who Say Breastfeeding Is Unnecessary?
There are some studies where scientists came to a conclusion that breastfeeding is better than formula but not by much. However, it is important to keep in mind that many of these studies are funded by the baby formula manufacturers themselves.
The baby formula is marketed as a perfect substitute to breastfeeding, but it is far from it.
Baby formula is also made from concerning ingredients. Most commonly it is created from cow’s milk, which is dangerous for babies who develop casein allergies, or from soy, which is most likely GMO.
Besides the main ingredients, it also often contains toxic additives. The main ones to avoid are:
- Synthetic docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA): while they are present in mother’s milk and are beneficial is their natural form, the man-made version have no benefits but may cause stomach upset, as well as problems with the nervous system.
- Sucrose: this added sugar destroyed babies’ teeth and can contribute to childhood obesity. It can also trigger a life-long addiction to sugar.
- Carrageenan: This additive is banned from infant formula in Europe, but not in the U.S. Some studies associated it with issues in the digestive tract, and even linked it to tumors and cancers in mice.
What If One Is Unable To Breastfeed? Choosing an Organic Formula
Looking at all of the research, it seems that in the perfect world, breastfeeding and for a longer time would be the best route to choose. However, that is not always possible because of a mother’s health, baby’s inability to breastfeed, absence of the mother, allergies, or personal preferences.
Without doubt, if you have to buy a baby formula always choose organic.
But even organic brands currently available on the market have their cons. Here are some of the major brands and the issues with them. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula yet, so it is up to you as parents to make an informed decision.
All of the formulas contain some kind of sugar or sweetener. All contain nucleotides produced from hydrolyzed yeast, which has been chemically altered. All contain taurine, which processing includes a use of a toxic and carcinogenic sulfuric acid.
Similac contains lutein, lycopene, L-carnitine, and L-methionine. Lutein is treated with insecticides, and is a potential neurotoxin. Lycopene is a synthetic version of a compound found in tomatoes. Manufacturing it involves a solvent which is derived from benzene and is a neurotoxin. L-carnitine’s manufacturing process involves a possible human carcinogen. L-methionine is produced using materials also used for chemical warfare agents.
How the Baby Sleeps May Also Greatly Reduce SIDS Risk
While the above information about breastfeeding and SIDS is not exactly well known, the medical community has gone to great lengths to inform parents about the benefits of back sleeping for preventing SIDS in babies.
“The single most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to lower a baby’s risk of SIDS is to place the baby to sleep on his or her back for naps and at night,” reports the National Institute of Child Health and Development on their website (see here for more info).
Compared with stomach sleeping, back sleeping can drastically cut the risk for SIDS as well according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Task Force on Infant Sleep Position and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2000.
In that regard, utilizing both back sleeping and breastfeeding may be two of the best ways to improve your baby’s chances of surviving and thriving past their infant years.
Of course, you should always consult your doctor for more information first before making any major decisions that could affect the health of your baby.
This article is not intended to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure any diseases. Consult a doctor before making any changes to your baby’s diet or other routines. See our full disclaimer here.